Saturday, February 4, 2012

Mohamed Abdelaziz

Mohamed Abdelaziz (Arabic: محمد عبد العزيز‎; born 17 August 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 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[citation needed] 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[citation needed]. 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".

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