Most Tunisians had always resented French occupation, but in the 20C an independence movement arose. The Destour (Constitution) Party was founded in 1920, but divisions between moderate and extremist factions soon happened. In 1934, the more radical Habib Bourguiba and his followers broke away and formed the Neo-Destour Party. It was promptly banned and Bourguiba was jailed, which only increased his support.

After the war the French government attempted to suppress independence movements in North Africa. But as conflicts escalated into terrorism, the French acceded to demands for Tunisian autonomy in 1955. Bourguiba negotiated the agreement, and after Tunisian independence was declared on 20 March 1956, he became the country’s first prime minister.