Without de Gaulle's masterly handling of the situation, the Algerian crisis would probably have plunged France into Civil war. How far would you agree with this verdict on President de Gaulle's contribution to the events leading to Algerian independence?
Since 1940s, about nine million French settlers controlled one third of the fertile land of Africa.The whites used the land to produce crops and exported, this reduced the land and food availability for the Algerians. This degraded their standard of living. Initially there were peaceful nationalist movements but the situation worsened when:
- The French army backed the French settlers, this made them dominate the Algerian economy, not to give any concessions and treat Algerians as second-class citizens.
- Though French government made an Algerian Assembly, but the power were limited and in the hands of French settlers.
As a result Algerians learning from the defeat of France in Indo-China, a militant nationalist group was formed and it launched guerrilla war on French settlers. French considered it as an opportunity to restore the lost prestige in the defeat of Second World War and in Indo-China. So they fought back with more force. Algerians demanded General de Gaulle to become new head of government. When he became the Prime Minister and drafted new constitution and gave powers to President after some time he became President. The French did not expect him to held peace talks with the militant nationalist group of Algeria and when he did, he agreed for independence of Algeria in the backdrop of outbreak of a civil war if he had not agreed. So he greatly contributed to independence of Algeriaby taking important steps.