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Addis Ababa, April 12, 2012: The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU) Jean Ping, has learned with deep sadness the death in Algiers, yesterday April 11, 2012, of Mr. Ahmed BEN BELLA, the  first President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria. The African Union fully shares the grief of Algeria. 

President BEN BELLA devoted most of his  life  to  fighting  for  the  liberation of his country for which he made huge  sacrifices. He embarked very early in the anti-colonial struggle which culminated in the independence of Algeria, in July 1962.

 

 

In  the  vision  of  President  Ahmed  BEN  BELLA,  the  liberation  of  Algeria  could  not  be complete so  long as the entire continent was not also  freed from the yoke of  foreign and racial  domination.  Accordingly,  during  the  Founding  Summit  of  the  Organization  of  the African Unity (OAU) in Addis Ababa, in May 1963, he urged his African peers to "die a little or  even  completely,"  to  complete  the  decolonization  agenda  and  the  struggle  against Apartheid and racial discrimination. In this context, he was a staunch supporter of African unity, driven as he was by the conviction that without unity, Africa would not be able to meet the challenge of recovering her freedom and dignity.  

 

Former President BEN BELLA’s commitment to the Pan-African cause never abated. Thus in 2007,  he  accepted, at the request of Mr. Alpha Oumar Konare, then Chairperson of the Commission, to head the AU Panel of the Wise, one of the pillars of the African Peace and Security Architecture, which is notably mandated to support conflict prevention efforts on the  continent.  In  his message  during the inauguration ceremony  of  the  Panel,  in  Addis Ababa, on December 18, 2007,  former President BEN BELLA, having recalled the  founding date  of May  25,  1963,  and  the  vivid  recollection that came back to his mind, with the scrolling faces of his departed peers, vowed to accomplish the mission which was entrusted to him with "the highest sense of commitment and with all the integrity that underpins our lifelong commitment to Africa and the peoples of the continent". With the sense of history and duty that was characteristic of him, he added: "On behalf of my companions, I would like to declare that we see this mission as a responsibility and an obligation, and we intend to discharge it, with all our energy, in support to the aspirations of all the African peoples to peace, security and stability".

 

Consequently, despite his advanced age and declining health, former President BEN BELLA spared neither his efforts nor his energy to fulfill this new responsibility. In this capacity, he participated  in  several  meetings  of  the  Panel,  particularly  in  Addis  Ababa,  where  he returned  for  the  first  time  in  2008  since  the  OAU  Summit  of  May  1963. He took the opportunity to visit Africa Hall, where he and other African leaders of the period signed the OAU Charter. He accomplished this "pilgrimage" not only  in memory of a major  landmark of Pan-Africanism, but also in remembrance of his departed peers. 

 

On  the  ground,  and  under  the  authority  of  President  BEN  BELLA,  the  Panel  of  the Wise undertook  several missions  to  countries  and  regions  affected  by  conflicts  and  tensions, working  to  facilitate  dialogue  and  to  convince  all  stakeholders  to  embark,  in  a  firm  and durable manner, upon the path of shared peace and security for all the daughters and sons of Africa. Similarly,  and as part of  its  conflict prevention mandate,  the Panel  launched a number  of  thematic  reflections,  particularly  on  election-related  disputes  and  violence, given the challenges facing the democratization processes on the continent, as well as on the  issue  of  justice  and  reconciliation,  in  the  context  of  post-conflict  situations  and  the difficult trade-offs they impose.

 

With the death of Ahmed BEN BELLA, departs the last Founding Father of the OAU. While Africa, despite the progress made in just over half a century of independence, continues to face multiple challenges, the personality of former President BEN BELLA, his sense of duty and  commitment  should  inspire  the  current generation  in  its  struggle  for a better Africa, where  the banner of  democracy  and  freedom must  be  carried  further,  higher,  as  a  very natural extension of the struggle for independence and dignity, of which he and the other Founders of the OAU were the great leaders. 

 

On  this  sad  occasion,  the  Chairperson  of  the  Commission  wishes  to  present  the condolences of  the AU  and his own  to  the  family of  the  illustrious departed,  and  to  the people and Government of Algeria. He wishes  to assure  them of  the AU’s  solidarity, and remains  convinced  that  Algeria,  which  will  celebrate  the  fiftieth  anniversary  of  its independence  in a  few weeks  time, will continue,  in  its African engagement,  to capitalize on the legacy of the struggle conducted by President BEN BELLA and the noble principles in the service of which he devoted his life.

 

The members of  the Panel of  the Wise,  the Commissioner  for Peace and Security and all the staff of  the Peace and Security Department, who had  the privilege of working closely with  the  Grand  Departed,  as  well  as  all  the  staff  members  of  the  Commission,  fully associate themselves with this modest description of the life and work of President Ahmed BEN BELLA and bow before his memory with emotion.

 

 

Posted by Tchioffo Kodjo
Last updated by Marsden Momanyi

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