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Saturday, February 04, 2023
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Appointed not elected, consultative but without no decision-making power, therefore without popular support, Corcas raises considerable controversy. Should we give it a favourable judgement despite its institutional limits? The answer may not be made today because, according to its chairman, the Corcas does not yet know much about its mission. That will depend on the king and his decision only.


The protesters arguments are not without interest. According to Professor Riyadh Fakhri, a lawyer at the Law Faculty of Settat, from the Saharan tribe Aït Lahcen, there is a comprehensive representation regarding Corcas composition. It concerns Saharawis educated in Morocco, who were among Polisario and joined Morocco in charge of ideas and projects, and those that were installed in Europe. "The latter, continues R. Fakhri, can play a prominent role to deal with Polisario propaganda in Europe." According to other observers, Corcas can make a break with the past, if its members, especially at the level of the presidency, demonstrates openness and imagination. The first big test will be autonomy proposal. 

Le Journal hebdomadaire: There are protests, both within the Corcas and from outside on the fact that its composition does not comply with the tribal balance of Western Sahara ...
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: I will answer very honestly. The Corcas is not an elected body. It is a body whose members are appointed by His Majesty. So there can be no protest when a body is appointed. However, Corcas composition complies with the tribal balance because all tribes are represented. 

JH: Yes, but it is unequal and unfair
KOE: No, it's proportional to their importance. And that's perfectly normal. The composition is based essentially on colleges, a kind of cooptation: there is a college of elected officials, deputies and advisers, presidents of provincial councils, presidents of chambers of commerce, and so on. There is also the college of Chioukhs, women (10%),youth, and civil society. 

JH: The Minister of Communication said that, in any case, council membership can continue and that the list of members is not yet finalized?
KOE: Yes it is possible.

JH: Within Corcas, at initial meetings, some voices have been raised against what they call people from the north, who would not know the Sahara issue and who would impose their vision to the Council?
KOE: That's false. There has been no discussion of this kind. I am really surprised that we talk of such things. I can assure you it is wrong.

JH: Apart from the Council’s status, what are the concrete priorities on which you will be focusing on?
KOE: We are already working on the objectives that His Majesty has clearly defined.

JH: What are these priorities?
KOE: There are three. Firstly, help His Majesty preserve national integrity. Secondly, help His Majesty preserve national unity. Thirdly, take effective actions for economic and social development.

JH: Yes, but what you say is too general. What to do, for example, to reconcile Saharans with Moroccan State?
KOE: Convince Sahrawis who are outside and inside and absorb all political, economic and social deficits that have caused these problems.

JH: You are at the head of an advisory council that is, as the King says, a power of suggestion. What are you going to propose concretely on autonomy principle?
KOE: All this will be discussed at the Council meeting, when autonomy question will be submitted.

JH: But how are things going to pass? Will the king submit you a preliminary plan, a kind of platform, or will the Council prepare a paper and propose its vision of autonomy?
KOE: I can not tell you if His Majesty is going to submit an autonomy project for consultation. I do not know yet how the consultation will be made. It all depends on His Majesty. Is this a project? Is this a question? Is this a request? Honestly, I do not know yet how things are going to be done.

JH: have you an idea on autonomy project?
KOE: Yes, I have ideas but cannot reveal them now. 

JH: The Western Sahara is experiencing serious events. There are young people who live under difficult social situation and who siding with Polisario. What do you propose to tackle this problem?
KOE: I do not agree with your analysis that social problems are the cause of the malaise. Siding with Polisario leads to a total political vacuum. When we see them waving Polisario flag, it means they are with the other side, that is clear. We must say things as they are. They are already pro-Polisario. Why? Because there was a vacuum, simply. Hence the importance of His Majesty’s visit. The sovereign said: interruption is over. I will give autonomy and solve the problem. I will empower Sahrawis through the creation of a council for Saharan affairs

JH: But this council suffers from a legitimacy problem. It is not elected but appointed?
KOE: appointment is a fundamental prerogative of the Head of State. His Majesty may appoint, at any time bodies or councils that he believes useful for a determined period. The Royal Council is not autonomy.

JH: Who proposed names?
KOE: I respect your curiosity but it is not very important

JH: According to you, what form will autonomy in Western Sahara take?
KOE: Autonomy is not a form of government, but a form of political and administrative affairs. We will therefore remain the Kingdom of Morocco and the Sahara will be managed in an autonomous political, economic, social and cultural way.

JH: It's very general. Does this mean that the Sahara will have its Parliament, its government, its police?
KOE: Exactly.

JH: And justice?
KOE: Whatever option, justice will always be made on behalf of His Majesty who is the commander of the faithful

JH: You will take the example after some country?
KOE: Spain, essentially.

JH: It has been said that the project is already prepared!
KOE: People say a lot of things. The project will not be submitted to the United Nations late April. And it is normal. The Corcas is newly created and consultation with parties has just been completed.

JH: Are you going to draw from Baker project?
KOE: We will draw according to the interests of Morocco, regardless of what Baker did or what other countries say. 

JH: And what about Polisario?
KOE: Polisario is a political and military organization. These are Sahrawis. We have already contacted them, we do it through you also …the project has been sent to all Sahrawis, Mauritania, Algeria, Spain and elsewhere. 

JH: Specifically, what kind of relationship do you have with Polisario?
KOE:
They are our cousins, our families, our friends.

JH: I said specifically...
KOE: Polisario is our family. We have uncles, brothers, nieces, aunts, etc.. The father of Mohamed Abdelaziz is a Corcas memeber.

JH: I am talking about Polisario leadership
KOE: This project has been sent to Sahrawis. It is not addressed to a particular organization, association, or tribe, but to all Sahrawis. It is their future.

JH: What do you say to Algeria?
KOE:
We turn to Algeria in the hope that it will help us solve this problem.

JH: But Algerians reject any proposed autonomy. They are for referendum ...
KOE: Perhaps because the project was not concrete and real yet.

JH: You’re saying that the prevailing malaise in Western Sahara is due to a political vacuum. You acknowledge therefore the failure of the Moroccan policy in the region ... 
KOE: I am not as categorical as you. I said that there was a time when we must be clear and precise. And this time was March 25, 2006, when His Majesty made his speech in Laayoune.

JH: What about the repressive policy of Moroccan state since 1975 against the Saharan population? Don’t you think that it has fostered tension climate in Western Sahara?
KOE: Let's agree. There have been stages in the case of the Sahara. The first stage, between 1956 and 1975, has led to the creation of Polisario. Why did students, who were the Mohammed V University in Rabat, create a separatist movement? However, we, other Sahrawis, who were in Spain, who had never been in Morocco, have done the reverse movement? These are questions we should ask. The second stage, between 1975 and 1992, was war.

JH: It's also repression, disappearances, torture, victims ...
KOE: No, it's not war, these are war conditions. If you do not take into consideration the war hardness, battles, how things were conducted, the major arms that were implemented, you cannot understand all implications. You can not isolate political tension, repression, disappearances, and so on. The Third stage ـ from 1991, and ceasefire. There was a huge release. And this is what created current problems. It is the result of 15 years of political vacuum.

JH: Who is responsible?
KOE: I do not know. It is a magma which encouraged the last events, and lack of confidence. I want to pay tribute to the initiative of His Majesty to turn the page.

JH: Do you not think it has come a bit late, this initiative?
KOE: It is never late to do good things.

JH: It is said that you had special links with Driss Basri. What kind of relationship?
KOE: I do not understand what you mean by «special links»
 
JH: It is said that Basri led you and helped you hold ministerial positions…
KOE: this is not true. Basri was my colleague, like many other ministers. For 17 years, I was a minister of the late Hassan II. I was not Basri’s colleague only but of the greatest figures in the kingdom. This stage is part of the page that was turned on March 15 and I do not want to live it again.

 

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