1956 Tunisia and Morocco Become Independent



In 1956, large- scale opposition to French rule forced the French to grant independence to Morocco where M'barek Bekkai became Premier, and Tunisia where Habib Bourguiba became Prime Minister..

In the aftermath of World War II, as the winds of decolonization swept across Africa and Asia, Morocco too began to clamor for its freedom from French rule. The Istiqlal Party, which was founded in 1944, played a significant role in demanding full independence, modernization, and constitutional monarchy for Morocco. Sultan Mohammed V, who held a symbolic role under the French protectorate, also supported the cause.

The increasing pressures from both the political elites and the general populace in Morocco, coupled with international factors, including pressure from the United States and the decolonization trend in the UN, pushed France towards reconsidering its stance.

In 1956, after several rounds of negotiations and after restoring Mohammed V to the throne from his forced exile, France finally recognized Morocco's independence. With this, M'barek Bekkai was appointed the Premier (Prime Minister) of the new state.

Tunisia's Journey to Independence:

Tunisia's nationalistic movement, the Neo Destour party, under the leadership of Habib Bourguiba, had been demanding autonomy and later full independence from France since the 1930s. The brutal suppressions of these demands by the French colonial authorities only fueled the desire for independence.

Similar to Morocco, post-World War II geopolitical dynamics and the rise of nationalist movements worldwide played crucial roles in the Tunisian struggle. The increasing unrest in Tunisia, along with the global trend of decolonization, especially the support from the newly established United Nations, pushed France into a corner.

By 1956, after long negotiations and diplomatic engagements, France conceded to the demands of the Neo Destour party. Tunisia was granted its independence, and Habib Bourguiba, a key figure in the nationalist movement, became its Prime Minister. In 1957, Tunisia was declared a republic, and Bourguiba became its first president.

Both these events in Morocco and Tunisia marked crucial moments in the post-WWII decolonization movement in North Africa and signaled the decline of European colonial dominance on the continent.