|Algeria Table of Contents
Recurrent cabinet crises focused attention on the inherent instability of the Fourth Republic and increased the misgivings of the army and of the colons that the security of Algeria was being undermined by party politics. Army commanders chafed at what they took to be inadequate and incompetent government support of military efforts to end the rebellion. The feeling was widespread that another debacle like that of Indochina in 1954 was in the offing and that the government would order another precipitate pullout and sacrifice French honor to political expediency. Many saw in de Gaulle, who had not held office since 1946, the only public figure capable of rallying the nation and giving direction to the French government.
After his tour as governor general, Soustelle had returned to France to organize support for de Gaulle's return to power, while retaining close ties to the army and the colons. By early 1958, he had organized a coup d'état, bringing together dissident army officers and colons with sympathetic Gaullists. An army junta under General Massu seized power in Algiers on the night of May 13. General Salan assumed leadership of a Committee of Public Safety formed to replace the civil authority and pressed the junta's demands that de Gaulle be named by French president René Coty to head a government of national union invested with extraordinary powers to prevent the "abandonment of Algeria." De Gaulle became premier in June and was given carte blanche to deal with Algeria.
Source: U.S. Library of Congress