March 2 ~  Dialog Among Civilizations Algerian Civil War

"A dialogue among civilizations can be seen as a dialogue between the individual and the universal." ~ Abdelaziz Bouteflika

Abdelaziz Bouteflika

As the leader of Africa's second-largest country, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (1937- ) was born on this day in Oujda, Morocco.

With a life as turbulent as his heritage, at age 19, he joined the National Liberation Army and became a leader in his country's eight-year war of independence from France.

"Dialogue can be seen as a therapy of choice," he once said.

In 1962, the newly-independent Algeria welcomed Bouteflika as its foreign minister. He served for 16 years, and then was accused of corruption. He spent 20 years in self-imposed exile in France while his country waged a civil war that cost an estimated 100,000 lives.

In 1999, with the backing of the army, he returned to Algeria and was elected president by an overwhelming margin. "I will make peace, I will make peace, I will make peace," he said.

Carving a spirit of optimism, he promised to restore national stability. With his leadership, radical insurgency was curbed, oil prices rose, and the economy improved.

"A nation must be embraced, rehabilitated, and expressed as a tangible sign of human creativity and as an integral element of mankind's heritage," the articulate leader said.

Bouteflika won his second five-year term in 2004. He described his commitment to the West's war on terror as "unshakable... in Algeria or throughout the African continent... matched only by (the) desire to promote democracy and the rule of law."

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