Ali Kafi: Politician who led Algeria following the 1992 coup


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The Independent Online

Ali Kafi, who died on 16 April at the age of 84, led Algeria for two years after the 1992 military coup that aimed to stop Islamists from winning a national election. Kafi led the High Committee of State from 1992-94 during the opening years of Algeria's bloody civil war with Islamic extremists. His rule followed the assassination of Mohammed Boudiaf, who was briefly president after generals forced Chadli Benjedid to resign. The civil war lasted more than a decade and cost 200,000 lives.

Kafi, who was born in 1928 in the eastern city of Constantine into to a poor family, became involved in the anti-colonial struggle at an early age, after the massacre at Setif, where nationalist unrest that broke out at the end of the Second World War was brutally suppressed by French forces, leaving thousands dead.

He became a leading member of the Algerian underground that fought for independence from France from 1954 to 1962, reaching the rank of colonel. After Algeria became independent in 1962, he went on to become an ambassador to Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq and Italy. He was brought out of retirement to help solve the crisis brought on by the cancelling of the second round of elections and the toppling of Benjedid. He was named part of the High Committee of State in January 1992. With the assassination of Boudiaf, the newly named president, Kafi became the leader of the committee until Liamine Zeroual, a retired general, took power in 1994.

Algerian politics has been dominated by ageing former members of the struggle against French rule, with 76-year-old Abdelaziz Bouteflika serving his third term as president after coming to power in 1999.