Houari Boumedienne was born in Guelma, Algeria, in 1927. He was educated in Egypt and in 1954 joined the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN). Under the leadership of Ahmed Ben Bella the FLN fought a long war of independence from France. In 1960 Boumedienne was appointed chief of staff of the FLN.
In 1962 Algeria gained its independence and Ahmed Ben Bella became the country's first prime minister and in 1963 was elected president. Boumedienne became Minister of National Defence.
Boumedienne led a military coup against Ahmed Ben Bella in 1965. He established a Islamic socialist government and presided over the Council of Revolution. Over the next ten years he kept good relations with both sides of in the Cold War. Under his leadership Algeria experienced rapid economic growth. In his final years Boumedienne was unsuccessful in trying to establish a North African Socialist Federation.
Houari Boumedienne died in 1978.