Report: Clan wars and unavoidable scission in Tindouf, defectors
Morocco, Politics, 11/5/1999
For years now, the Polisario has been through a crisis which has drastically worsened lately especially since August, say three Polisario leaders who returned recently to Morocco.
The "Quotidien du Maroc" in its weekly economic release reports statements by defectors saying two clans, led by Mohamed Abdelaziz and Mohamed Lamine Bouhali, for one clan, and Ayoub Lahbib and Bachir Mustapha Sayed for the other, are waging a deadly war for power.
The Polisario's number two, Ayoub Lahbib, openly rebelled against Abdelaziz denouncing his legitimacy and the way funds received are used for personal use and piling up wealth. The little authority the man still has, he owes it to a few Algerian generals'unconditional support who will back him as long as possible in torpedoing the referendum--in the Sahara-- and maintaining instability in the area, they explained.
Abdelaziz, they went on, was reduced to making of populations there eternal refugees, an ideal situation for personal gains and gains for the ever shrinking group of his accomplices.
For Mohamed Mahmoud Abdelkader O. Haibati, who held several top positions before heading the Sahrawi Republic-radio and who returned to Morocco Oct 15, this situation caused a genuine hemorrhage within the movement and pushed thousands to leave for Morocco, their motherland. Others went to Spain looking for jobs while huge numbers are now roaming close to Algerian-Mauritanian and Malian borders, he said. Waves of dissidents found in the tribe-fold the only protection against the tyranny of Polisario mercenaries, he said.
Ifdal Malainine, former central director of the "Education Ministry" of the SADR, who also returned Oct 15, said that Abdelaziz, faced with troubles during the last Polisario congress which threatened to turn into armed fight and total support to opponents, called for intervention of the Algerian military security which immediately exerted irresistible pressure on military delegates to the congress.
The three Sahrawis interviewed by the weekly said almost none of the opponents was allowed to leave because they had denounced total control of the Algerian army and the undemocratic way the congress was organized.
Ahmed Ould Saleh, former personal secretary of Ayoub Lahbib who returned to Morocco Oct 17 and who attended the works of the congress, said Bachir Mustapha Sayed, who criticized Abdelaziz's dictatorial ways, was denied the right to leave the October 12 School which hosted the congress to prevent contacts with the press.
Opposition groups wanted to limit the powers of Abdelaziz, separating the presidency from the secretariat general, a move which would make things difficult for Polisario's sleeping partners who needed one single and faithful interlocutor, they said, adding that was why all leaders from the territory have been eliminated.
Malainine said the opposition was braced to call all camp inhabitants backing them to go to Mijek, 700 km from Tindouf, to gather there and let the U.N secretary general and MINURSO know their official stand and their separation from Polisario.
Abdelaziz reacted and decreed a total ban on movement of vehicles and people driving the opposition to action from within with spontaneous meetings in the camps, Ould Saleh said.
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