Polisario welcomes Algeria's "historic, courageous" stance on Saharawi cause

Polisario welcomes Algeria's "historic, courageous" stance on Saharawi cause
The Polisario Front has commended Algeria's "historic and courageous" stance on the Sahrawi people's cause following participation in the 14th Polisario Congress last week.
3 min read
24 December, 2015
Western Sahara has long been disputed between Morocco and the Polisario Front [AFP]

The Polisario Front welcomed on Wednesday Algeria's "historic, courageous and in principle" stance on the cause of the Sahrawi people and their right to self-determination and independence, the Algeria Press Service reported.

In its latest statement, the Polisario Front welcomed the "the unconditional and unwavering" support by the Algerian government and people with regard to their cause.

The statement commended the "fidelity of Algeria to the principles of the glorious revolution of 1 November".

The separatist movement also welcomed the "distinguished participation" of the Algerian delegation in the works of the 14th Polisario Congress, which was held in the Sahrawi refugee camp of Dakhla from 16 to 20 December.

The Congress participants mainly discussed the reinforcement of security in the liberated Sahrawi territories and the strengthening of the army's capacities for a possible return to armed action.

Last week, Algerian Minister of Mujahedeen [war veterans] Tayeb Zitouni stressed that his participation in the Polisario Congress reflected Algeria's attachment to the people's right to self-determination, as well as its support for the full implementation of UN decisions. 

"Algeria has marked the history of decolonisation and continues to support the Saharawi people until they can fully exercise their rights under international law," the Minister said.

"The inalienable position of Algeria is identical to that of the African Union, which makes the issue of the completion of decolonisation in Western Sahara a priority."

"Algeria will spare no effort to assist the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon and his special envoy in the region, Christopher Ross, to promote dialogue directly between the two parties to the conflict [Morocco and Polisario Front] and work to achieve a just and lasting solution that guarantees the brotherly Saharawi people's right to self-determination."

A decades-long dispute

Western Sahara, a desert territory in north-west Africa, has been the subject of a decades-long dispute between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front, a militant group made up of native Sahrawis calling for independence.

The territory is rich in natural resources, such as phosphate and offshore oil deposits.

Morocco has occupied Western Sahara since the withdrawal of colonial Spain in 1975, fighting a guerrilla war with the Polisario Front.

In 1991, the UN brokered a peace deal between the factions and has had a peacekeeping mission monitoring the situation in the region ever since, including the Polisario-controlled refugee camps in Algeria, where about 100,000 refugees still live.

Morocco has presented a plan for autonomy, while the Polisario Front's position is that the territory's final status should be decided in a referendum on self-determination that includes independence as an option.

Peace talks have since stalled, with the Polisario Front threatening to resume hostilities.