During the Algerian War of Independence, the return to power of Charles De Gaulle raised the hopes of French colonists -- colons -- and the professional military with his exclamation of "Vive Algérie française" (long live French Algeria) in June 1958. However, in a September 1959 statement, de Gaulle dramatically reversed his stand and uttered the words "self-determination," which he envisioned as leading to majority rule in an Algeria formally associated with France.
Claiming that President de Gaulle had betrayed them, the colons in Algeria, backed by units of the army, staged an insurrection in Algiers in January 1960 that won mass support in Europe. As the police and army stood by, rioting colons threw up barricades in the streets and seized government buildings. In Paris, de Gaulle called on the army to remain loyal and rallied popular support for his Algeria policy in a televised address. Most of the army heeded his call, and in Algiers General Challe quickly defused the insurrection. The failure of the colon uprising and the loss of many ultra leaders who were imprisoned or transferred to other areas did not deter the militant colons from further resistance against what they perceived to be the French government's willingness to grant Algeria independence.