29.08.- 04.09.1999

10th Congress of the Polisario Front
Three days before the referendum in East Timor, the President of the East Timorese National Resistance Council, Xanana Gusmão sent a message of congratulations (French or Spanish) to President Mohamed Abdelaziz and to the delegates and guests of POLISARIO's 10th Congress. Mr. Gusmão highlighted the similarities between the struggles of the Timorese and Sahrawi peoples. He stated that the Timorese hoped to take a page from the Congress in term of how to "perfect the institutions of an independent Timorese State." He added that the Sahrawis' organization and struggle have greatly "aided the Timorese in the management of their referendum process."

Other messages received by the Congress: The MPLA reaffirmed its "militant solidarity" with the struggle of the Sahrawi people. In Europe, several autonomous regions of Spain, unions, municipalities and solidarity committees also expressed their best wishes. The French socialist party communicated to the Congress and the Sahrawi people "its commitment to a peaceful and democratic resolution" to the question of the Western Sahara, "forcefully" reaffirming its loyalty to international law as well as its desire to see the self-determination process lead to a "free referendum with international guarantees."

A delegation of 14 staff members of the US Congress visited the Congress delegates. The assistant to the president of the Africa Commission of Congress, Malik Jaka, reiterated the US Congress' support, as laid out in the last resolution on the Western Sahara, of the Sahrawi people's inalienable right to self-determination and independence. He announced the US Congress' to creation of a commission to monitor the progress of the settlement plan.

On the Congress agenda
Discussion of the report issued by the rules of procedure commission of the POLISARIO Front and of the SADR constitution began August 28 and continued for 6 consecutive days. Debates focussed on the separation of powers, political, legislative and juridical, and the composition and strengthening of the role of the Sahrawi National Council (parliament), on the expansion of judicial power, electoral processes, the Organization's political structures, etc.

Army delegates proposed a triple candidacy for the position of Secretary-General, contrary to a single candidate, as foreseen by POLISARIO's rules of procedure, and a reduction in the number of members of the National Secretariat, from 22 to 15; while representatives of mass organizations and civil society called for the status quo, or an increase.
When taken to a vote, the new rules of procedure and constitution were adopted: the number of members of the National Secretariat were reduced from 33 to 29, those of the National Council were reduced from 101 to 51; the period between congresses was set at 3 years. Major changes were made to the internal procedures, in a move toward greater democratization. The number of candidates to the National Secretariat and to the position of Secretary-General of the POLISARIO Front were not limited. According to SPS, the new SADR Constitution "confirms the desire of congress members to set down the guide posts of a modern State that is forward-looking, adapted to current needs and endowed with institutions that will be able to manage affairs in the context of globalization, democracy and human rights. "The Congress also decided on checks on the National Secretariat by the National Council (parliament), which can question its members individually. A Islamic Fetwe Council was also created as well as a Council of Notables (chioukh)


Following changes to the rules, the nominating committee presented three candidates: Mohamed Abdelaziz, Secretary-General, since 1976; Brahim Ghali, first Secretary-General, from 1973 to 1974, Minister of Defence until 1989, commander of the 2nd military region, currently POLISARIO representative in Madrid; and Mahfoud Ali Beiba, Assistant Secretary-General from January to August 1976, Prime Minister numerous times, Minister of the Interior, Health, Education, Justice, Information, President of the External Relations Commission, currently Minister of the Occupied Territories.
In a secret ballot, Mohamed Abdelaziz was re-elected in the first round with 77.9% of the votes, surpassing the necessary quorum of two-thirds.

National Secretariat
The National Secretariat is made up of 29 members (25 elected members plus the Secretary-General of the Polisario Front, the secretary-generals of the mass organizations, members of office). The list of 75 candidates submitted by the nominating committee was not approved and was opened up to all congress members to add their own nominations. In the end, the commission presented 446 contenders. Discussions on the reports issued by the national action program commission, the commission charged with reviewing past and future actions, the commission on messages and resolutions and the final political declaration are still going on.
After the first ballot, four candidates reached the simple majority: Halma Salama, 64,8% of the votes, M'Hamed Khaddad, 58,65% of the votes, Brahim Ghali, 53,95% of the votes and Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, 50,17% of the votes.
After the second ballot other 21 candidates are elected: El Boukhari Ahmed, Alioun Kentaoui, Brahim Ahmed Mahmoud, Bouchraya Beyoun, Abdellahi Lehbib, Khatri Addou, El Bachir Mustapha Sayed, Daf Mohamed Fadel, Babiya Chiâa, Mahfoud Ali Beiba, Mohamed Sidati, El Khalil Sid M'Hamed, Salem Lebsir, Mustapha Sid El Bechir, Ayoub Lehbib, Ahmed Val Mohamed Yehdih, Abdelkader Taleb Omar, Mohamed Lamine Bouhali, Mohamed Oubeid, Mohamed Lamine Ahmed et Mansour Omar.
22 members of the former Secretariate are reelected. All three "newcomers", Khatri Addou, Daf Mohamed Fadel et Babiya Chiâa, have been members of it at older periods. The F. POLISARIO Secretary general, lhe Secretary general of the National Union of Saharawi Women , NUSW and the Secretary generals of the Saharawi Workers Union , UGTSARIO, and of the Saharawi Youth Organisation, UJSARIO, complete the staff.

On official visit to Morocco, Madeleine Albright was received by the King prior to meeting the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Discussions included the Western Sahara and support for the current democratic process.

Algerian-Moroccan relations

During a public meeting in Béchar, Mr. Bouteflika made it clear that the reopening of land borders between the two countries, closed since 1994 and slated to reopen in September, has been postponed indefinitely . The massacre of 29 people on August 14 in the region of Béchar by armed Islamic militants "torpedoed the whole deal." According to the Algerian press, the terrorists took refuge in Morocco. AFP Rabat reported, based on reliable sources, that on August 25, nine members of the group were in the hands of Moroccan military police. While the state-run media in Algeria confirmed the news, the Moroccan government denied it the next day. "This is not a sign of neighbourliness," stated Mr. Boutiflika.

In an interview, the Moroccan minister responsible for government affairs, Ahmed Lahlimi, stated that "Morocco can agree to the idea of a large degree of autonomy [for the Western Sahara] if it respects the Constitution and Morocco's administrative organization based on regions." (Al-Ittihad al-Ichtiraki)

The 10th Congress of the POLISARIO Front ended on late September 4 by adopting messages addressed to the European Unions and European Parliament, The UN Secretary general, US President Clinton, the President of the Spanish government José Maria Aznar, to king Mohamed VI of Morocco, Algerian President Bouteflika and the Algerian political forces as well as to Mauritania's President Maaouya ouls Sid'Ahmed Taya. The Congress appealed to the Saharawi population living in the occupied territories and in South Morocco to thwart the attempts of intimidation and asked for explanations about hundreds of disappeared Sahrawis in Morocco.(SPS)


News release from the Paris-based Plate-forme Solidarité avec le Peuple Sahraoui, September 2, 1999:
"The 100 Sahrawi children who were hosted in July and August have returned home safely, excited about telling their friends and family about their discoveries during their holiday in France. They are now preparing to return to school in their camps. Their stay in France ended with a lovely party organized by the city and Loon Plage scouts on August 26, 1999. The event included traditional Sahrawi songs and dance, as well as rap and hip hop from the suburbs and the colourful rhythms of the Dunkerque carnival. The commissioner for Andréa, President of the APMCJ, presided over this festive gathering. Most of the elected officials for the area, members of associations, and the numerous families who participated in hosting the children were present. Their hospitality was greatly appreciated. See you next year!"


06-09.09.99 Tripoli, Libya, extraordinary OAU Summit following a Libyan proposal of revision of the charta of the Organisation.

Roma, Italia : Festa de l'Unita, 10 settembre 1999, ore 21.00, Quartiere Testaccio ( ex Mattatoio) "L'autodeterminazione del Popolo Saharawi verso il Referendum" Interverranno: Marisa Rodano (Segretaria Naz. ANPS), Luciano Ardesi (Presidente ANPS), Raul Cittadini (Sindaco), Carlo Leoni (Parlamentare Governo Italiano), Omar Mih (Rappr. RASD in Italia), Umberto Romano (Scrittore).

25th European Conference of coordination of the support to the Saharawi people, 5, 6 et 7 November 1999, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.
Informations : fedissa@nagasys.es



[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]

[Summary Weekly News,] [Western Sahara Homepage]