Courtesy Reuters

Crisis and Reform in French North Africa

THE French Union, the successor to the French Empire, is composed under the Constitution of 1946 of France and four categories of overseas dependencies. There are the overseas departments (Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana and Réunion) which are completely assimilated to the administrative units of metropolitan France. There are the former colonies, now overseas territories. There also are two types of communities with a separate existence recognized in international law: the associated territories, or trustee areas, under the control of the United Nations (Togo and Cameroun); and the associated states, possessing their own political governments. Viet-Nam, Laos and Cambodia have requested and obtained membership in the French Union as associated states. But the Protectorates of Tunisia and Morocco are voluntarily remaining apart.

These two protected states, the subject of this article, do have a place in the French Union, but they can acquire the status of associated states only by special acts of adherence to the Constitution. Now the French Parliament voted this Constitution without consulting the Bey of Tunisia and the Sultan of Morocco, and certain of its democratic and lay principles are not compatible with the theocratic basis of power of these two Moslem sovereigns. As a result, the Tunisian and Moroccan nationalist parties which are now demanding independence contemplate a future alliance of their countries with France, but not integration into the French Union.

French relations with the two states in question are regulated by the treaties of El Bardo and La Marsa, signed with the Bey of Tunis in 1881 and 1883 respectively, and the treaty of Fez, signed in 1912 with the Sultan of Morocco. The treaties, imposed by force, kept the reigning dynasties on their thrones but deprived them of actual power. The French Residents-General, charged with counseling the sovereigns, in fact assumed the duties of the rulers, while functionaries set up direct administration. It thus can be said that the protectorate system has been perverted in spirit as well as practice, so much so, indeed, that although independence

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