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Opération Corse

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Opération Corse was the start of an abbreviated civil war that precipitated the fall of the Fourth French Republic in 1958.

Contents

Background

The War in Algeria was going badly and the government of France was notoriously unstable. A group of rebel officers decided to do something about that by forcing retired General Charles de Gaulle to take over and refound the republic.

Algiers

It started as a coup attempt led at Algiers on 13 May 1958 by a coalition headed by Algiers deputy and reserve airborne officer Pierre Lagaillarde, French Generals Raoul Salan, Edmond Jouhaud, Jean Gracieux, and Jacques Massu, and by Admiral Philippe Auboyneau, commander of the Mediterranean fleet. The putsch was supported by former Algerian Governor General Jacques Soustelle and his activist allies.

After his tour as governor general, Jacques Soustelle had returned to France to organize support for de Gaulle's return to power, while retaining close ties to the army and the settlers. By early 1958, he had organized a coup d'état, bringing together dissident army officers and colonial officials with sympathetic Gaullists. An army junta under General Jacques Massu seized power in Algiers on the night of 13 May. 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." Salan announced on radio that the Army had “provisionally taken over responsibility for the destiny of French Algeria”. Under the pressure of Massu, Salan declared Vive de Gaulle ! from the balcony of the Algiers Government-General building on 15 May. De Gaulle answered two days later that he was ready to “assume the powers of the Republic”. Many worried as they saw this answer as support for the army.

Opération Corse: The invasion of Corsica

On 24 May, French paratroopers from the Algerian corps landed on Corsica by aircraft, taking the French island in a bloodless action called "Operation Corse." Subsequently, preparations were made in Algeria for "Operation Resurrection," which had as objectives the seizure of Paris and the removal of the French government, through the use of paratroopers and armoured forces based at Rambouillet.

Reaction to Opération Corse by the French government

The French government immediately resigned, and President Rene Coty appointed General de Gaulle Prime Minister, with a mandate to dismantle the Republic and erect a new one.

References

Opération Corse Wikipedia


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