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stamppages : free online postage stamp catalogue : French Algeria - Civil war
|The trigger for the collapse of the Fourth Republic was the Algiers crisis of 1958. France was still a colonial power, although conflict and revolt had begun the process of decolonization. French West Africa, French Indochina, and French Algeria still sent representatives to the French parliament under systems of limited suffrage in the French Union. Algeria in particular, despite being the colony with the largest French population, saw rising pressure for separation from the Métropole. The situation was complicated by those in Algeria, such as the Pieds-Noirs, who wanted to stay part of France, so the Algerian War became not just a separatist movement but had elements of a civil war.|
Further complications came when a section of the French Army rebelled and openly backed the Algérie française movement to defeat separation. Revolts and riots broke out in 1958 against the French government in Algiers, but there were no adequate and competent political initiatives by the French government in support of military efforts to end the rebellion owing to party politics. The feeling was widespread that another debacle like that of Indochina in 1954 was in the offing and that the government would order another precipitous pullout and sacrifice French honor to political expediency. This prompted General Jacques Massu to create a French settlers' committee to demand the formation of a new national government under General De Gaulle, who was a national hero and had advocated a strong military policy, nationalism and the retention of French control over Algeria. General Massu, who had gained prominence and authority when he ruthlessly suppressed Algerian militants, famously declared that unless General De Gaulle was returned to power, the French Army would openly revolt; General Massu and other senior generals covertly planned the takeover of Paris with 1500 paratroopers preparing to take over airports with the support of French Air Force units. Armored units from Rambouillet prepared to roll into Paris.
On 24 May, French paratroopers from the Algerian corps landed on Corsica, taking the French island in a bloodless action called Opération Corse. Operation Resurrection would be implemented if De Gaulle was not approved as leader by the French Parliament, if De Gaulle asked for military assistance to take power, or to thwart any organized attempt by the French Communist Party to seize power or stall De Gaulle's return.
De Gaulle, who had announced his retirement from politics a decade before, placed himself in the midst of the crisis, calling on the nation to suspend the government and create a new constitutional system. On 29 May 1958, French politicians agreed upon calling on De Gaulle to take over the government as prime minister. The French Army's willingness to support an overthrow of the constitutional government was a significant development in French politics. With Army support, De Gaulle's government terminated the Fourth Republic (the last parliament of the Fourth Republic voted for its dissolution) and drew up a new constitution proclaiming the French Fifth Republic in 1958.
From 22 July 1958 the normal French stamps were used in Algeria, and the old Algerian stamps were no longer on sale from 31 August 1958.