By Benjamin Villanti
By Benjamin Villanti
Morocco World News
New York, December 15, 2011
In advance of the Polisario Front’s 13th Congress, to be held from the 15 to 19 of December, the ‘Association of the Youth of the Laaroussyine Tribe in Spain and the Refugee Camps sent letters to the heads of Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and the European Parliament condemning the leadership of the separatist organization.
The association represents youth of the Laaroussyine tribe, which is one of the largest tribes of the Sahara that was once a Spanish colony, and now disputed between Morocco and the Polisario Front.
This week, the 13th Congress of the Polisario Front is to be held, and in their letter, the youth association denounced the process leading up to it. Their criticism noted that, “a remarkable lack of dialogue and exchange has marked the preparations for the 13th Congress.” This made clear, according to the association, that the Polisario’s leaders were intent “on making last eternally the status quo.”
Citing the “shameful situation which is found in the Tindouf camps,” the youth association claimed that the Polisario Front “is not capable of satisfying the expectations of the Saharawis and of finding a solution to the question of the Sahara.” The youth group also claimed that the Polisario oppresses dissenting views and that it should no longer be seen as the sole representative organization of the Saharawi people.
In their letter, they characterized the Polisario as “authoritarian” and “known for its improvisation and the exploitation of the suffering of the Saharawi people in order to enrich themselves.”
The situation, the group claimed, “demands us to sanction the authoritarianism in order to put an end to the disastrous situation in which our families live as refugees in the South of Algeria and the stagnation of the question of Sahara.”
The association concluded by calling on Executive Director Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon of the United Nations and European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek “to intervene to put an end” to the situation.
Other Saharawi organizations released press statements in recent days condemning the Polisario Front before its upcoming Congress. These included the Democratic Saharawi Association (RSD), founded earlier this year and based in Paris, which claims to “belong to all the children” of the Sahara, as well as the Oulad Daoud Tribe Youth Movement.
The current conflict over the Sahara began in 1975 when Spain withdrew from the territory. Since 1991 the United Nations peacekeeping mission known as MINURSO has monitored a cease fire between Morocco and the Polisario, as UN mediated negotiations have sought to obtain a lasting resolution.
In April 2007, Morocco presented an Autonomy Plan that was described as “serious and credible” by the Security Council. The said plan proposes significant autonomy for the Sahara with a local government and a parliament, within the Moroccan sovereignty.
The Polisario Front, supported by Algeria, rejects the Moroccan plan and claims the people of the Sahara have a right to self-determination through a referendum.
Over the past two years, Morocco and the Polisario have held 8 informal rounds of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy, Christopher Ross. The last round of negotiations was held in July in New York. All of these negotiations have ended without any progress.
Many analysts voice their concern that the current informal negotiations over the future of the Sahara are leading nowhere and that the Security Council ought to adopt a new approach in order to put an end to this long-lasting dispute.
With the changing geopolitical situation in the Maghreb after the demise of Muammar Gaddafi, the involvement of Polisario militias on behalf of Gaddafi and the implication of some Polisario in terrorist activities, as illustrated by the kidnapping on Sunday of three humanitarian workers in Tindouf, Morocco might be pushed to refuse to engage in any informal negotiations in the near future.
© Morocco World News