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1965: Students protest after Algiers coup
Police in the Algerian capital Algiers have broken up demonstrations by hundreds of people who have taken to the streets chanting slogans in support of deposed President Ben Bella.

The protests began with an orderly march by students but police attempts to disperse the crowds turned them into rioting groups running through the streets.

Ex-president Ahmed Ben Bella is being held prisoner in a remote Sahara outpost. He has been deposed by chief of the armed forces Colonel Houari Boumedienne and his National Revolutionary Council.

Communications cut off

In the early hours of yesterday morning, two tanks moved into position at the presidential villa in Algiers.

Police guards were quietly relieved by soldiers. There was a sound of breaking glass and a light was briefly seen before being turned off again.

By the time dawn broke, tanks had moved into various strategic points throughout the city, the airport was under military control and all communications with the outside world were cut off.

After several hours of military music on the radio, Colonel Boumedienne broadcast a long statement accusing Ahmed Ben Bella of treason and promising him the "fate of all despots".

The statement broadcast in the name of the Revolutionary Council also pledged to work for a "democratic, serious state" and the recovery of the economy.

One of the colonel's first actions has been to order the release of political prisoners held on "arbitrary" grounds.

He has also given assurances no French people or property in the country will be harmed.

The coup has taken place 10 days ahead of an Afro-Asian Conference due to be held in Algiers. There is some speculation it may have been inspired by the Russians to prevent the meeting - from which they were excluded - from taking place.

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Ben Bella pictured in 1964
Ahmed Ben Bella was the first president of an independent Algeria


In Context
Ahmed Ben Bella was brought to power after leading the struggle for independence from France, which was finally achieved in July 1962. He was dependent on Colonel Boumedienne then chief of staff of Algeria's 60,000-strong army.

He failed to build up a political force to act as a counterweight to the military and took control of many key ministries himself.

After the coup, he was held under house arrest for 15 years. On release, he lived in exile in Switzerland.

He continued to instigate unrest in Algeria and in 1990 returned to stand for the presidency at the head of the Mouvement Democratique Algerien (MDA). The 1991 election was won by an Islamist party but the result was annulled and Ben Bella was sent back into exile. The MDA was one of a number of parties banned in 1997.

In December 1976, Colonel Boumedienne was elected president and served for two years until he died. Under the tight reins of his control, the country did begin to develop its oil resources and industrial sector.

Since his death, various attempts have been made to establish a multi-party democracy, but violence has continued between government and Islamic militants.

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