13 April 2012

North Africa: Regional Leaders Gather to Attend Funeral of Algeria's First President

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki traveled to Algeria today to attend the official funeral of Algeria's first post-colonial president, Ahmed Ben Bella, who passed away on April 11.

"President Ahmed Ben Bella is one of the prominent figures that lead the national liberation's struggle against French colonization," communicated the Department of Information and Communication for the Presidency of the Tunisian Republic in a press release issued yesterday.

The statement also commended Ben Bella for being a leading figure in human rights activism in Africa and Asia.

"He is a personality that raises esteem and consideration in the Arab World and Africa, which earned him the position of president of the Elders within the African Union, whose mission is to prevent and intervene in conflicts that plague the continent," the press release stated.

Ben Bella became the first president of Algeria in 1963. Passing away at the age of 96, his death coincides with the 50th anniversary of Algeria's independence. An eight day mourning period was decreed by Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Ben Bella's memory. His burial is scheduled to be performed after Friday prayers at the Martyrs' Corner at the El Alia cemetery in Algiers.

According to APS - the Algerian Press Agency - Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, Ennahdha leader Rachid Ghannouchi, Mauritanian Prime Minister Moulay Oulad Mohamed El Aghdas, and Sahrawi president Mohamed Abdelaziz are in Algiers to attend the funeral.

Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali and President of the Tunisian Constituent Assembly Mustapha Ben Jaafar will also be present in Algiers for Ben Bella's funeral, reported TAP.

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