When the oil minister of Algeria, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Iraq meet in Tripoli on Monday, 22nd February, Algeria will be presenting both the policy and the mettle of its President, Houari Boumedienne.
When the oil minister of Algeria, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Iraq meet in Tripoli on Monday, 22nd February, Algeria will be presenting both the policy and the mettle of its President, Houari Boumedienne. Under his direction Algeria, has played a complicated role in the present oil talks. It has sent observers to the main talks in Teheran, it has negotiated its own arrangements with France and now it is partly lining up with Libyan demands for batter terms.
Colonel Houari Boumedienne has ruled Algeria for more than five years. To most Algerians he is his country's first and only national leader. The regimes of Ben Bella and Ben Khedda are virtually forgotten.
Boumedienne is the son of a farmer from eastern Algeria near the Tunisian border. He changed his name from Mohammed Boukharraba to Houari Boumedienne about 1955 when he wan an officer in the FLN (National Liberation Front). By 1960 he was FLN's army chief. And when Algerian became independent under President Ben Khedda in 1962, Boumedienne was left, along with the army, in political uncertainty. The same year he helped Ben Bella to take over the country. In 1965 he ousted Ben Bella and he has kept him under house arrest ever since.
Houari Boumedienne is unmarried. Although not a recluse, he spares little time for formalities. The army is his great preoccupation: it brought him to power and he relies on it. Every year it take pride of place in the parades in Algiers to mark the anniversary of the country's freedom.
Today Boumedienne's Algeria is a haven for revolutionaries from other countries. But it is also slowly building its own Algerian, Arabic, non-French identity, an identity which closely reflects the personality of Houari Boumedienne.