September 20, 2016

A PEOPLE WHO THINK THEMSELVES A NATION ARE ONE:

Why Sahrawis see more hope in war than in peace (Habibulah Mohamed Lamin, September 19, 2016, Al Monitor)

Sept. 6 marked the 25th anniversary of the United Nations-sponsored cease-fire agreement in Western Sahara between Morocco and the Polisario Front, the Sahrawi independence movement. The peace accord was supposed to be followed by a referendum in which the Sahrawis would choose their system of governance from three options: integration with Morocco, autonomy or independence. But the planned vote was canceled after Morocco refused to allow any process that would include independence as a choice. The dispute is still ongoing, with continued tension. [...]

For 25 years, the UN's efforts have been fruitless for the Sahrawis as they wait for the promised referendum. However, other factors have recently put their cause in the spotlight -- for example, in March, Morocco expelled the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara from the Western Sahara territory. The incident caused temporary tension that was contained once the UN Security Council voted to restore the mission.

Even so, another episode of escalation began recently when Morocco decided to cross its military wall that divides Western Sahara to build a road in the disputed territory on the borders with Mauritania. A UN confidential document obtained Aug. 29 by The Associated Press said the move was a violation of the cease-fire agreement. On the other side, the Polisario Front deployed an estimated 32 personnel to the zone. Sayed said such a decision "was very strategic and has shown that the front is self-reliant, reflecting a strong will."

Mohamed Lamine El Bouhali, the former defense minister of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), the state the Sahrawi declared in 1976, also spoke during the panel discussion. El Bouhali confessed that signing the peace treaty was a mistake for the Polisario Front.

"Let's be objective enough to see what such a cease-fire has given us. We should have continued the armed struggle until we liberated every single span of Western Sahara," he said.

El Bouhali noted that SADR even gained membership for itself in the African Unity, now the African Union, during the mid-1980s "when Sahrawi soldiers were fighting in the battlefield."

It is clear that the former military commander does not believe in the ongoing peace process. In addition, he even challenged his colleagues in the leadership to prove him wrong.


Posted by at September 20, 2016 6:23 PM

  

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