Polisario Front to Continue Armed Struggle for Liberation of Sahrawi People, 16th Congress
Caracas, January 27, 2023 (OrinocoTribune.com)—The Polisario Front declared in the final statement of its 16th Congress the commitment of the Sahrawi people to resistance and escalation of the liberation struggle until achieving complete sovereignty over the entire national territory of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
The 16th Congress of the Polisario Front, named the “Congress of Martyr Muhamed Khaddad Lahbib,” was held during January 13-22 in the Dakhla refugee camps in Algeria. This was the first congress of the Polisario Front since the break of the ceasefire between the SADR and Morocco in November 2020.
The statement, released on Sunday, January 22, expressed that the conference was held during a distinct stage of the Sahrawi nation’s struggle, marked by its escalation against the Moroccan occupation since November 13, 2020, in the context of legitimate self-defense and resistance against the Moroccan occupation’s blatant act of aggression and its violation of the ceasefire agreement. Against this backdrop, the Congress expressed its appreciation for the overwhelming rise of Sahrawi people from all walks of life to the occasion as a manifestation of their commitment to resistance and the strengthening of the armed struggle until the people are liberated completely and achieve sovereignty over the entire territory of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
The statement added that the attendance of representatives of the Sahrawi people from various fields embodies the Sahrawi people’s engagement in advocating for their independence and their support for their legitimate and sole representative, the Polisario Front.
The national liberation movement also thanked the over 370 foreign delegates from governments, political parties, social movements, and associations from all continents who attended the Congress, and stated that such extensive participation reflects the international solidarity and support for the just and noble struggle of the Sahrawi people.
Election of president and national secretariat
During the course of the 16th Congress, on January 20, Brahim Ghali was re-elected as the president of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and the secretary-general of the Polisario Front for a three-year term. Ghali received 69% of the valid votes while his contender, Bashir Mustafa, received only 31%. The election was conducted by the Election Committee in accordance with the Basic Law of the Polisario Front and the Constitution of the Sahrawi Republic.
Ghali is a renowned guerrilla fighter who led the May 1973 Janga battle, the first against Spanish colonial control in Western Sahara, and defied Morocco’s decision to build a road in Guerguerat, the border crossing between Western Sahara and Mauritania. On the other hand, Mustafa, a prominent diplomat, led the signing of the peace agreement between SADR and Mauritania in 1979, and headed the Polisario Front delegation that met Moroccan King Hassan II in Marrakech in 1989 for peace talks.
The Congress also elected the members of the National Secretariat of the Polisario Front, who will serve as officials of the SADR government for the next three years. The secretariat will comprise 27 members, elected by the delegates of the Election Committee in two rounds. The results were announced on the evening of January 22 at the closing session of the Congress.
At the conclusion of the Congress, President Ghali stated that “the Congress was clear in its decisions and in determining the priorities of the Sahrawi national action in the next stage,” and emphasized that “the Sahrawi Liberation Army is a priority and constitutes the forefront in the battle for existence, destiny, and dignity.”
He noted that the Sahrawi People’s Liberation Army “deserves all care and attention, in all respects, material and human, in order to be at the highest levels of readiness.”
The Polisario Front delegates announced measures to improve the living situation of the more than 170,000 Sahrawi refugees residing in camps in Algeria, as well as that of the Sahrawians living in the Morocco-occupied territories, accounting for over 80% of SADR.
International solidarity for the Sahrawi cause
Political and social organizations from around the world sent delegations or statements of support and recommendation to the 16th Congress of the Polisario Front, reiterating their solidarity with the Sahrawi people in their struggle for freedom and self-determination.
On the first day of the Polisario Congress, the representative of the Algerian National Assembly announced before the congress participants Algeria’s full support and solidarity with the Sahrawi cause, adding that the position of the Algerian government and people in this regard will not change.
The leader of the Union of the Forces of Progress party of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Mouloud, stated that “the interdependence of the destiny of the Mauritanian and Sahrawi peoples requires the sacred duty of solidarity with the Sahrawi cause.”
Ould Mouloud confirmed the firmness of his party’s position on the Sahrawi question for over 50 years. “I have come to represent the party and confirm its firm position of support for the Sahrawi cause because of the connection of the two peoples by blood, dialect, history, culture, and neighborliness,” he said.
The two countries have maintained diplomatic relations since Mauritania’s recognition of the SADR 40 years ago.
Venezuelan National Assembly deputy and PSUV member Gabriela Peña, representing Venezuela at the 16th Congress of the Polisario Front, conveyed the greetings of the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, and the people of Venezuela to the Sahrawi people and authorities. She stated that “the Sahrawi cause is also a Venezuelan cause,” and condemned the Moroccan occupation of the SADR territory and the continuous and flagrant violations by Morocco against Sahrawi citizens in the occupied territories.
Venezuela, like Mauritania, recognized the SADR in 1982, and has continuously expressed its support for the Sahrawi cause.
The president of the Chilean Association of Friends of the SADR and prominent defender of the Sahrawi cause, Esteban Silva Cuadra, expressed his organization’s solidarity with the Sahrawi people and the Polisario Front. “Our commitment and support remain with the Sahrawi cause and their struggle for sovereignty,” he stated, while reading the message of solidarity from the São Paulo Forum.
The Polisario Congress also received statements of solidarity from the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor, the Timorese Unity and Progress Party, the Timorese Construction Party, and the Democratic Party of Timor-Leste.
Various political organizations of Africa sent solidarity statements to the Congress, including the Algerian People’s Voice Party, the Mauritanian Nidaa al-Watan party, and the Socialist Party of Ghana.
From Latin America, the Congress received letters of solidarity from the Revolutionary Party of Panama, the Socialist Party of Uruguay, and the Communist Party of Ecuador.