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Évian Accords

Agreement which led to the end of the Algerian War of Independence

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The French government and representatives of the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) signed the Évian Accords at Évian-les-Bains, France, signaling an end of the Franco-Algerian War (or the Algerian War of Independence) which had begun in 1954. A formal cease fire would begin the following day.

The Algerian War of Independence started on 1 November 1954, with action by Muslim guerrillas under the combined banner of the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN). France dispatched half-a-million troops to quell the revolt.

The FLN's armed wing, the Armée de Libération Nationale (ALN) was based in neighboring Arab states, particularly Morocco. Along with rural based guerillas, they targeted European settlers and businesses. Although it seemed like the war was being won by French troops by 1958, French settlers in Algeria were now banding together and demonstrating for the integration of Algeria with France, and calling for the return of Charles de Gaulle as French president.

Government buildings in Algeria were ceased, and the French Army Commander-in-Chief General Raoul Salan went on air to announce that the army was taking responsibility for the future of French Algeria. (A referendum in France on 28 September 1958 gave mandate for the ending of the Fourth Republic, and the creation of a Fifth – French colonies in Africa were given the option of independence or joining a reformed French community. Algeria which was not considered a colony, but was considered part of France, was not given the option. De Gaulle was voted into power in November 1958.)

On 8 January 1962 De Gaulle initiated a referendum on self-determination for Algeria. Far right groups in France and amongst the settler population in Algeria reacted strongly – the Organisation de l'Armée Secrète (OAS) was formed. De Gaulle wanted to maintain French control over oil reserves in Algeria and keep military bases in operation, and offered to provide technical assistance and monetary aid in exchange. Seeing this as betrayal, the OAS initiated a bombing campaign and tried several times to assassinate De Gaulle.

After the signing of the Évian Accords the OAS targeted French military units in Algeria – claiming they were an occupation force. Despite the severe disruption by the OAS the FLN resolutely stuck to the ceasefire agreement, but in July 1962 European settlers were massacred in the city of Oran – reports vary with between 200 and 3000 people killed or otherwise missing. The FLN's military wing, the ALN, was given free reign by Algerian authorities, and it was only when French Gendarmerie were deployed that the massacre came to an end.

The Évian Accords required that a provisional government in Algeria hold a referendum on the question of independence. If the Algerian people gave a mandate for independence, France promised to continue aid, and that all foreign nationals would either depart or take up Algerian citizenship. (It also provided for continued military presence by France in Algeria – bases were maintained until 1966 and were used a centers for France's first few atomic bomb tests.) The subsequent referendum in July 1962 polled 6 million votes for independence and only 16 thousand against.

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