Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic

Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
الجمهورية العربية الصحراوية الديمقراطية
Al-Jumhūrīyya al-`Arabīyya aṣ-Ṣaḥrāwīyya ad-Dīmuqrāṭīyya
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: حرية ديمقراطية وحدة  (Arabic)
"Liberty, Democracy, Unity"
Anthem: "Yā Banīy As-Saharā"
O Sons of the Sahara
Location of  Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic  (dark blue)– in Africa  (light blue & dark grey)– in the African Union  (light blue)  —  [Legend]
Location of  Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic  (dark blue)

– in Africa  (light blue & dark grey)
– in the African Union  (light blue)  —  [Legend]

Capital El Aaiún1[1]  (proclaimed, under Moroccan administration)
Bir Lehlou and Tindouf Sahrawi Refugee Camps (administrative)
Official language(s) Arabic[2]
Spoken languages Hassānīya Arabic and Berber are widely used.
Demonym Sahrawi
Government Single party state[3]
 -  President Mohamed Abdelaziz
 -  Prime Minister Abdelkader Taleb Oumar
Disputed with Morocco 
 -  Western Sahara
   relinquished by Spain

November 14, 1975 
 -  Declared February 27, 1976 
 -  Effective 80% of the territory claimed is under Moroccan Administration as its de facto "southern province". 
 -  Total 266,000 km2 (83rd)
102,703 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) negligible
 -  September 2010 estimate 100,000 or 502,5853 (182nd)
 -  Density 1.9/km2 (236th)
4.9/sq mi
Currency Algerian dinar (de facto)[4]
Sahrawi Peseta (commemorative)
Time zone UTC (UTC+0)
Internet TLD .eh reserved.
1 The SADR government is based in the Refugee camps of Tindouf, Algeria. They control the area east of the Moroccan Wall in Western Sahara which they label the "Free Zone". Bir Lehlou is within this area.

2 Area of the whole territory of (Western Sahara) claimed by SADR.

3500,000 is the estimate given for the population of Western Sahara based on comparative study of population growth since 1975, the date where the last census took place in Western Sahara. 100,000 is the estimated number of people living in the refugee camps in the Tindouf province, Algeria where the SADR is headquartered.

The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) (Arabic: الجمهورية العربية الصحراوية الديمقراطية‎ is a partially recognised state that claims sovereignty over the entire territory of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony. SADR was proclaimed by the Polisario Front on February 27, 1976, in Bir Lehlu, Western Sahara. The SADR government controls about 20-25% of the territory it claims.[5] It calls the territories under its control the Liberated Territories or the Free Zone. Morocco controls and administers the rest of the disputed territory and calls these lands its Southern Provinces. The SADR government considers the Moroccan-held territory occupied territory, while Morocco considers the much smaller SADR held territory to be a buffer zone.[6]



Following the Spanish evacuation of Spanish Sahara, Spain, Morocco, and Mauritania signed the Madrid Accords on November 14, 1975, leading to both Morocco and Mauritania moving in to annex the territory of Western Sahara. Neither state gained international recognition and war ensued with the independence-seeking Polisario Front, claiming to represent the Sahrawi people. The creation of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic was announced in Bir Lehlou in Western Sahara on February 27, 1976, as the Polisario declared the need for a new entity to fill what they considered a political void left by the departing Spanish colonisers. Bir Lehlou remained in Polisario-held territory under the 1991 cease-fire (see Settlement Plan) and has remained the government in exile's symbolic capital[citation needed] of the exiled republic, while Polisario continues to claim the Moroccan held city of El Aaiún, as the capital of a would-be independent Western Sahara. Day-to-day business, however, is conducted in the Tindouf refugee camps in Algeria, which house most of the Sahrawi exile community.

Government structure

The highest office of the republic is the President of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, now Mohammed Abdelaziz, who appoints the Prime Minister of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, now Abdelkader Taleb Oumar. The SADR's government structure consists of a Council of Ministers (a cabinet led by the Prime Minister), a judicial branch (with judges appointed by the President) and the parliamentary Sahrawi National Council (SNC, present speaker is Kathri Aduh). Since its inception in 1976, the various constitutional revisions has transformed the republic from an ad hoc managerial structure into something approaching an actual governing apparatus. From the late 1980s the parliament began to take steps to institute a division of powers and disentangle the republic's structures from those of the Polisario party, although without clear effect to date.

Its various ministries are responsible for a variety of services and functions. The judiciary, complete with trial courts, appeals courts and a supreme court, operates in the same areas. As a government-in-exile, many branches of government do not fully function, and has affected the constitutional roles of the institutions. Institutions parallel to government structures also have arisen within the Polisario Front, which is fused with the SADR's governing apparatus, and with operational competences overlapping between these party and governmental institutions and offices.

The SNC is presently weak in its legislative role, having been instituted as a mainly consultative and consensus-building institution, but it has strengthened its theoretical legislative and controlling powers during later constitutional revisions. Among other things, it has added a ban on the death penalty to the constitution, and brought down the government in 1999 through a vote of no-confidence.

Legislative branch

e • d Composition of the Sahrawi National Council
Party Seats
Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Río de Oro 101
Total 101

Area of authority

The SADR acts as a government administration in the Sahrawi refugee camps located in the Tindouf Province of western Algeria. It is headquartered in Camp Rabouni, south of Tindouf, although some official events have taken place on Western Saharan territory in the provisional capital of Bir Lehlou, in Tifariti and other towns in the Liberated Territories. The government of the SADR administers both the Western Sahara territories under its control and the Sahrawi refugee camps on Algerian soil near Tindouf, but only claims sovereignty on the first ones. Several foreign aid agencies, including the UNHCR, and NGO's are continually active in the camps.

Constitution and characteristics

A new 1999 Constitution of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic took a form similar to parliamentary constitutions of many European states, but with some paragraphs suspended until the achievement of "full independence". Among key points, the head of state is constitutionally the Secretary General of the Polisario Front during what is referred to as the "pre-independence phase," with provision in the constitution that on independence, Polisario is supposed to be dismantled or separated completely from the government structure. Provisions are detailed for a transitory phase beginning with independence, in which the present SADR is supposed to act as Western Sahara's government, ending with a constitutional reform and eventual establishment of a state along the lines specified in the constitution.

The broad guidelines laid down for an eventual Western Saharan state in the constitution include eventual multi-party democracy with a market economy. The constitution also defines Sahrawis as a Muslim, African and Arab people,[7] The Constitution also declares a commitment to the principles of human rights and to the concept of a Greater Maghreb, as a regional variant of Pan-Arabism.

International recognition and membership

The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is currently recognised as a sovereign representative of Western Sahara by 58 states, mostly African and other governments in the developing world.[citation needed] Twenty-two states have withdrawn their former recognition, and twelve have "frozen" their diplomatic relations with the republic pending the outcome of the UN referendum.[citation needed] Sahrawi embassies exist in fifteen states. On the other hand, Moroccan territorial integrity, (i.e. Morocco including Western Sahara), is explicitly recognized by the Arab League.[8][9]

Although it has no recognition from the United Nations, the republic has been a full member of the African Union (AU, formerly the Organisation of African Unity, OAU) since 1984. Morocco withdrew from the OAU in protest and remains the only African nation not within the AU since South Africa's admittance in 1994. The SADR is also a member of the Asian-African Strategic Partnership formed at the 2005 Asian-African Conference,[10] despite Moroccan objections to SADR participation.[11]

In 2006, the SADR participated in a conference of the Permanent Conference of Political Parties of the Latin American and the Caribbean (COPPAL).[12]

In 2010, the SADR ambassador to Nicaragua participated in the opening conference of the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN).[13]

On 27 February 2011, the 35th anniversary of the proclamation of SADR was held in Tifariti, Western Sahara. Delegations, including parliamentarians, ambassadors, NGOs and activists from many countries participated in this event.[14][15]

The SADR is not a member of the Arab League, nor of the Arab Maghreb Union, both of which include Morocco as a full member. Having stated his support for the right of the State of Palestine to be admitted as a UN member, H.E. President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe called upon "Similarly, the tormented people of he Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic" must not be forgotten. We call for immediate progress in the engagement for a solution to their long-running problem".[16]

Proposed Western Sahara Authority

In the most recent peace plan, the UN-endorsed Baker Plan, created by James Baker, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's personal envoy to Western Sahara, the SADR would have been replaced with a five-year transitional Western Sahara Authority (WSA), a non-sovereign autonomous region supervised by Morocco, to be followed by a referendum on independence. However, as Morocco has declined to participate, the plan appears dead.[citation needed]

In April 2007 the government of Morocco suggested that a self-governing entity, through the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs (CORCAS), should govern the territory with some degree of autonomy for Western Sahara. The project was presented to the United Nations Security Council in mid-April 2007. A stalemate over the Moroccan proposal led the UN in an April 2007 "Report of the UN Secretary-General" to ask the parties to enter into direct and unconditional negotiations to reach a mutually accepted political solution.[17]

National holidays

The Spanish actress Verónica Forqué at the Sahara Film Festival
Date Name Original event / Notes
February 27 Independence Day Proclamation of the SADR in Bir Lehlou, 1976
May 10 Foundation of the Polisario Front Founded 1973
May 20 May 20 Revolution Start of the armed struggle against Spain in 1973
June 5 Day of the Disappeared Remembering missing Sahrawis
June 9 Day of the Martyrs Day on which El-Ouali died in 1976
June 17 Zemla Intifada Harakat Tahrir riots in El-Aaiun, 1970
October 12 Day of National Unity Celebrating the Ain Ben Tili Conference, 1975

Islamic dates

Dates kept according to the lunar Islamic calendar.

Date Name Observance
Dhul Hijja 10 Eid al-Adha Sacrifice feast
Shawwal 1 Eid al-Fitr End of Ramadan

See also


  1. ^ Article 4 of the Sahrawi constitution.
  2. ^ Artilce 3 of the SADR constitution
  3. ^ Article 32 of the SADR constitution: The Polisario is the sole political formation allowed for Sahrawis to exercise politics until complete independenceSADR. "Constitution of the SADR". Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "Au coeur du Polisario". Telquel. 
  5. ^ Cuadro de zonas de división del Sáhara Occidental (Spanish)
  6. ^ Numerous reports from the Official Portal of the Government of Morocco refer to the area as a "buffer zone".
  7. ^ Article 6 of the Sahrawi constitution. Article 2 prescribes that “Islam is the state religion and source of law”.
  8. ^ "Arab League supports Morocco's territorial integrity". Arabic News. 1999-01-08. Retrieved 2009-02-26. 
  9. ^ "Arab League withdraws inaccurate Moroccan maps". Arabic News. 1998-12-17. Retrieved 2009-02-26. 
  10. ^ South African Broadcasting Corporation (2006-09-01). "Asia-Afro partnership meeting kicked off today" (in English). South African Broadcasting Corporation.,2172,134138,00.html. Retrieved 2006-09-01. [dead link]
  11. ^ South African Broadcasting Corporation (2006-09-02). "Moroccan objections taint Asian-Africa meeting" (in English). South African Broadcasting Corporation.,2172,134161,00.html. Retrieved 2006-09-02. [dead link]
  12. ^ Prensa Latina (2006-09-11). "LatAm, Caribbean Parties in Nicaragua" (in English). Prensa Latina. Retrieved 2006-09-11. 
  13. ^ "Saharawi Ambassador to Nicaragua participates in meetings of PARLACEN". SPS. 01-07-2010. Retrieved 02-07-2010. 
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Zimbabwe, General Debate, 66th Session 22 September 2011, Address by His Excellency Robert MUGABE, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe at the General debate of the 66th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (New York, 21-24 and 26-30 September 2011), 25m:10s
  17. ^ "Report of the Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara". UN Security Council. 13 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-18. 

External links

Official SADR pages

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