- Mohamed Abdelaziz
محمد عبد العزيز
President of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic Incumbent Assumed office
30 August 1976
Prime Minister Mohamed Lamine Ould Ahmed
Mahfoud Ali Beiba
Mohamed Lamine Ould Ahmed
Mahfoud Ali Beiba
Bouchraya Hammoudi Bayoun
Mahfoud Ali Beiba
Bouchraya Hammoudi Bayoun
Abdelkader Taleb Oumar
Preceded by Mahfoud Ali Beiba Personal details Born August 17, 1947or 1948
Marrakesh, Morocco or Smara, Spanish Sahara
Political party POLISARIO Spouse(s) Jadiya Hamdi Residence "Rabuni", Sahrawi refugee camps, Tindouf, Algeria Alma mater Mohammed V University, Rabat, Morocco Religion Sunni Islam Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
- Mohamed Abdelaziz
- Prime Minister
- Abdelkader Taleb Omar
- National Council
- Kathri Aduh
- Political parties
- Elections: 2008
- Foreign relations
- Free Zone
Mohamed Abdelaziz (Arabic: محمد عبد العزيز; born August 17, 1947 or 1948) is the 3rd and current Secretary General of the Polisario Front and President of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic since 1976. He speaks Arabic and French.
Abdelaziz was born in Marrakesh, Morocco or in Smara, Spanish Sahara[unreliable source?][unreliable source?][unreliable source?] comes from a Sahrawi family of an eastern Reguibat subtribe, migrating between Western Sahara, Mauritania, western Algeria and southern Morocco. He is the son of "Khlili Ben Mohamed Al-Bachir Rguibi"; who was a member of the Moroccan Liberation Army and the Royal Moroccan Army.   Abdelaziz's father lives in Morocco with a part of his family and has always supported Moroccan claims on Western Sahara and is a member of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs. When Abdelaziz was asked during an interview about his father's position he said: "Everybody has the right to have his own opinions"
As a student in the Mohammed V University of Rabat, he gravitated towards Sahrawi nationalism, and became one of the founding members of the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi independence movement in Western Sahara with strong Arab socialist ideas which launched a few attacks against Spanish colonialism in the Spanish Sahara in 1973; but that is more notable for fighting against Mauritania and Morocco
Since 1976 he is Secretary-General of the organization, replacing Mahfoud Ali Beiba, who had taken the post as interim Secretary-General after El-Ouali Mustapha Sayed was killed in action in Mauritania. Since that time he is also the president of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), whose first constitution he was involved in drafting. He lives in exile in the Sahrawi refugee camps in the Tindouf Province of western Algeria.
His brother is Mohamed Lahbib Erguibi, lawyer of many Sahrawi human rights defenders as Aminatou Haidar or Naama Asfari, and former "disappeared" in Moroccan prisons between 1976 and 1991.
According to former members of Polisario now aligned with Morocco, Abdelaziz was "chosen" by Algeria at the top of the organization although he did not belong to the very closed circle of the organization's founders and "he always considered himself to be their man.". However, these testimonies were collected by ESISC, a Brussels-based commercial firm in the domain of counselling, including among its clients the Moroccan embassy in Belgium. A Moroccan newspaper that underlined the ties between ESISC and the Moroccan regime, Le Journal Hebdomadaire, was fined by a Moroccan court and finally had to close down. The press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) described the trial as "politically motivated and unfair".
He is considered a secular nationalist and has steered the Polisario and the Sahrawi republic towards political compromise, notably in backing the United Nations' Baker Plan in 2003. Under his leadership, Polisario also abandoned its early Arab socialist orientation, in favor of a Western Sahara organized along liberal democratic lines. He is, however, the 3rd longest ruling non-royal leader as he has been president of Sahrawi Republic for nearly 35 years. He has consistently sought backing from Western states, notably the European Union (especially Spain) and the United States of America, but so far with little success.
The Organization of African Unity seated Western Sahara for the first time in 1982, despite Morocco's vehement objections. In 1985, Abdelaziz was elected as Vice-President of the OAU at its 21st summit, effectively signalling that the Sahrawi Repbulic would be a permanent OAU member despite the controversy. In 2002, he was elected as vice-president of the African Union, at its first summit.
There is some criticism against him from within the Polisario for preventing reforms inside the movement, and for insisting on a diplomatic course that has so far gained few concessions from Morocco, rather than re-launching the armed struggle favored by many within the movement. The only, supposedly opposition group, is the Front Polisario Khat al-Shahid, which states that it wants to restore the legacy of his predecessor, El-Ouali Mustapha Sayed. Abdelaziz, specifically denied the existence of such a group; he maintains that only the Polisario exists in the camps. Others[who?] consider that, despite his militant rhetoric, Abdelaziz cannot order a resumption of fighting without the approval of the Algerian government.
Abdelaziz has condemned terrorism, insisting the Polisario's guerrilla war is to be a "clean struggle" (that is, not targeting private citizens' safety or property); he however acknowledged mistreatment to Moroccan prisoners of war as well as attacking civilian populations in Moroccan cities by the polisario, justifying this as necessary evils in times of war and that the Polisario had to use every mean in order to defend the Sahrawi population from the enemy.
Also, as head of the SADR, he has signed the OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism at the 36th summit in Algiers, July 14, 1999, the Dakar Declaration against Terrorism in October 2001 & the additional Protocol to the previous OAU's Convention on Terrorism at the 3rd session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, July 8, 2004.
Awards and nominations
In December 2005, as leader of the Polisario Front, he received the Human Rights International Prize, given by the Spanish Pro-Human Rights Association.
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- ^ The Polisario Front National Secretariat's Bureau, meeting under the chairmanship of Mohamed Abdelaziz, head of state and secretary-general of the Polisario Front, condemned the criminal attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the USA and, particularly, against defenceless innocent civilians. It expressed the Saharan people's solidarity with the people of the USA and their government.(Sahrawi national radio) ARSO, September 12, 2001
- ^ The President of the Republic presents his condolences to the King of Spain and the Head of the Government after terrorist attacks in Madrid SPS, March 11, 2004
- ^ The President of the Republic expresses Saharawi people's condolences to British people SPS, July 7, 2005
- ^ President of Republic consoles his Ugandan counterpart on victims of Kampala bomb attacks SPS, July 14, 2010
- ^ OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism
- ^ Protocol to the OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism
- ^ Latest developments on Western Sahara - Defense Forum Foundation, Congressional defense & Foreign Policy Forum. Capitol hill, Washington D.C., March 26, 2004.
- ^ Cynthia Basinet - Bio
- ^ APDHE - Memoria de actividades 2005 (In Spanish)
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