Western Sahara: Polisario thinking about post Abdelaziz era

Rumours ahead of congress

08 May, 14:17

    President of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic Mohamed Abdelaziz President of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic Mohamed Abdelaziz

    (ANSAmed) - ROME - The fourteenth Polisario congress could pave the way for the beginning of the post Mohamed Abdelaziz era, after weeks of rumours speculating on the political demise of the Front's historic leader. Sixty-eight year old Abdelaziz is both secretary general of the Polisario Front and exiled president of Rasd, the Arabic Saharawi Democratic Republic.

    He has refrained from officially declaring his intentions but forty years after the beginning of his leadership of the Saharawi people adhering to the movement's separatist agenda, the prospect of his demise appears likely.

    The recent history of Polisario (fighting for the enfranchisement of western Sahara from Morocco which claimed it after Spain relinquished power) has been marked by the refusal of any dialogue with the Kingdom, drawing force from United Nations resolution 2218. However, this stance has proved troublesome and made the road to independence perilous as western countries have often opted not to take sides in order to safeguard their relationship with Morocco. France, in particular, has strong and ancient ties with the kingdom and the Quai d'Orsay does not appear willing to endanger them. During his tenure Mohamed Abdelaziz has been at the centre of much debate within his own movement but he has always managed to remain at the helm, however the clock is ticking and the upcoming congress (expected to take place between September and October) will be rife with uncertainty.

    The restricted 20-member committee organising the congress will be called to bridge these differences but Abdelaziz's silence leaves the door open to different interpretations.

    What is certain is that a renewed mandate for the old leader would please very few while more and more voices call for his demise in the Saharawi "capital" of Tindouf. The months leading up to the congress will be characterised by as much open debate as secretive power plays. The challenge will not just be to push Abdelaziz into retirement but also to replace him with someone (or also a politburo) who may truly further Polisario's agenda and leave behind the current climate of uncertainty paralysing the Front's actions and the prospect of success of its nationalist dream.

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