Algerian Conflicts

August 20, 1958

Report Outline
Algeria And New French Constitution
French-Moslem Deadlock in Algeria
France and Algeria Since World War II
American Policy Toward North Africa

Algeria And New French Constitution

Referendum Campaign in Overeas France

Premier de gaulle's ten-day campaign to mobilize support for the new French constitution in overseas France is scheduled to wind up in Algeria at the end of August. A month later, on Sept. 28, the people of France, at home and overseas, will go to the polls to cast ballots for or against adoption of the proposed basic law of the Fifth Republic.

The constitution as now drafted would give most of the overseas territories the right at a later time to choose whether (1) to continue in their present status of limited autonomy, (2) to accept full autonomy in a federation of France and overseas territories, or (3) to become departments of the republic. None of these options would necessarily be offered to Algeria, which is considered an integral part of metropolitan France; in fact, the draft constitution makes no special provision for Algeria, torn for nearly four years by rebellion against the authority of the mother country. However, intensive efforts are being made to win Algerian support for the constitution in the Sept. 28 referendum.

Observers conclude that the contest there is not primarily over the merits or demerits of that document. It is a battle between the French government and Algerian insurgents for support of the Moslem millions who make up the bulk of the territory's inhabitants. The French are striving to run up a large Moslem vote in favor of the constitution; the insurgents are working to persuade the Moslems to boycott the referendum altogether and thereby register their opposition to further French control and their backing of the insurgent demand for independence. Thus, while the new constitution itself contributes nothing directly to settlement of the Algerian conflict, the outcome of the referendum campaign may have a good deal to do with the course de Gaulle takes when he comes to Grips with the problem of Algeria's future relations with France.

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