Abdel Aziz Mohamed


A moderate voice of the Polisario Front The long-time leader of a movement to create an independent state for the indigenous Berber tribesmen in Western Sahara Abdel Aziz Mohamed was seen as a moderate voice who, supported efforts by the United Nations to find a peaceful resolution to the dispute. He had overruled military hard-liners in the movement who pushed for a continuation of war. The movement known as the Polisario Front was formed in the early 1970s by a group of Sahrawis, indigenous nomadic Berber tribesmen, in opposition to Spain's colonial presence in Western Sahara. When Spain withdrew from the region in 1975, the Sahrawis fought attempts by both Mauritania and Morocco to claim the territory. Backed by Algeria the Polisario Front waged a 16-year war against Morocco. Nevertheless, when the United Nations brokered a cease-fire in 1991, Morocco controlled most of Western Sahara and annexed the territory to establish southern provinces. The Polisario Front was left with a smaller portion along the borders with Algeria and Mauritania. Peacekeeping forces from the United Nations have monitored the cease-fire since then, but efforts to reach a political settlement have failed. Morocco has offered the Sahrawis broad autonomy under Moroccan rule, while the Polisario Front insists on a referendum on self-determination. Tens of thousands of Sahrawis have lived in refugee camps in neighbouring Algeria and Mauritania since 1976. Born in the town of Smara, which currently lies in the Moroccan-held part of Western Sahara, Abdel Aziz Mohamed joined the Polisario Front movement as a student and was elected to its political bureau at its founding congress in 1973. He was selected as secretary general in 1976 and president of the self-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Re

Compiler: M. Nauman Khan

Write a comment

Name: Comment: