General De Gaulle - war-time leader of the Free French - has offered to lead France through the crisis that now faces his country following the "breakaway" of a military junta in Algeria.
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Background: General De Gaulle - war-time leader of the Free French - has offered to lead France through the crisis that now faces his country following the "breakaway" of a military junta in Algeria.
Since the military forces in Algeria formed a "Committee of Public Safety" under the leadership of paratroop General Massu, their repeated call has been for the leadership of General De Gaulle.
On Thursday, May 15, the General gave his reply to the people of France.
Breaking a political silence that has lasted for several years, the General - who had visited his Paris office the previous day - authorised the distribution of the following message:-
"The degredation of the State inevitably brings with it the estrangement of the associated people, disorder in the fighting forces, national dislocation, the loss of independence.
For 12 years France, at grips with problems too hard for the party regime, has been engaged in this disasterous process. Once before the country, then in the very depths, placed its confidence in me to lead it wholly to its salvation.
Today, in the face of the new difficulties which are mounting around it, 1st the country know that I hold myself ready to assume the powers of the Republic".
The first hostile reaction to De Gaulle's offer came from the Communists who, under their leader, Jacques Duclos, tried to get into a meeting of the cabinet to offer their support in fighting De Gaulle.
What does De Gaulle's statement mean? It implies that the General does not intend to seize power by force. The call to power would come from one of two sources: it couldbe made by the President of the Republic with the consent of a constitutional majority in Parliament.
That would be the peaceful legal way.
Or it could come from the leaders of the out-of-control mobs, who would have with them, as recent events have shown to probable, the bulk of the army. That would be tantamount to a revolution although it is impossible for the days-old government of M. Pflimlin to ignore the fact that General De Gaulle's message was greeted in Algiers with the wildest enthusiasm.
The briefly world bombshell, which broke a four years silence on the part wartime leader, contain several interesting points. It attacks the "rotten regime" - a favourite target of the General's - but it does not attack the Revolutionary military chiefs in Algiers.
As this report is written, the entire Paris garrison - between fifty and sixty thousand police and serviceman - has been ordered to stand by to protect the National Assembly as the Prime Minister prepares to ask the government declare a state of emergency.