Mr Khalihenna Ould Errachid maintained that the third visit of the Sovereign to the southern provinces was historical in various aspects, underlining that the fact that HM the King moves with this frequency gives an idea about the importance that the Sovereign gives to this region of the Kingdom.
The visit was historical and important since «for the first time in the Moroccan history, HM the King officially granted autonomy to this territory as final resolution ", he said.
Concerning the setting up of CORCAS, he pointed out that the Council constitutes a new tool with a fundamental role which is to assist the Sovereign regarding questions relating to the defence of the territorial integrity and the Kingdom’s national unity.
The nomination of CORCAS members, he explained, has obeyed to the representativeness criterion in order to bring about a mosaic which faithfully reflects the Sahrawi society and comprises elected representatives, notables, Chioukhs, civil society, women and former prisoners.
According to Mr Khalihenna Ould Errachid, with the creation of CORCAS, Sahrawis have already begun managing their affairs democratically. «This is training on a large scale and we begin to feel entirely implicated in the process", he underlined.
«All Sahrawis wherever they are, in the southern provinces or the Tindouf camps, in Mauritania, in Spain or elsewhere have to acknowledge that the HM the King’s autonomy plan is a project which historically and definitely settles conflicts ", he added, maintaining that autonomy assures to Sahrawis their political, economic, social and cultural rights " definitely and in a way unanimously recognized by the Moroccan people”.
«For Sahrawis, the attachment to HM the King is more important than the attachment to rights, and allegiance is the pillar of all this” he concluded.
He had disappeared for a few years, while continuing to participate as mayor in the development of Laayoune he vowed to make it the Casablanca of the South. The confidence entrusted to him by His Majesty King Mohammed VI by naming him chairman of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs revives and activates his dynamism.
Appointed at the top of this historic institution, Corcas, Khallihenna Ould Errachid, a Saharawi native of Laayoune, founder of the Sahrawi National Union party(PUNS), which refused Madrid tempting offer as president of the so-called Sahrawi Republic, being attached to the unity and integrity of Morocco, reappeared to share with members of the prestigious CORCAS, the heavy responsibility of making the autonomy project proposed by His Majesty King Mohammed VI successful. According to him, this project will settle definitely Saharans conflicts with the Moroccan authorities. A second green march.
Le point magazine: The Royal visit to the southern provinces, was the coup de grace for those who had doubts about the Sahara Moroccanity, what do you think?
Khallihenna Ould Errachid: Absolutely, the visit of His Majesty King Mohammed VI to the Sahara was historic in all respects.
This is the third visit by the King since his accession to the throne. The fact that His Majesty moves with this frequency gives an idea about the importance he attaches to this region of the Kingdom.
Secondly, it is important for its content, because for the first time in the history of Morocco, His Majesty the King has granted a formal autonomy to the territory as final solution.
PM: Morocco has already had a decentralization project.
KOE: Yes, but such a concrete project was never completed. It was made by His Majesty the King in laayoune, the capital of the Saharan provinces and in the presence of all Moroccan politicians and officials.
PM: What is the gain from the visit that you qualify as historic?
KOE: Let me say without being contradictory, that this is the second "Green March" that will finally turn the page on the past problems.
The late His Majesty Hassan II had recovered the Sahara from Spain, His Majesty Mohammed VI will solve these problems within the framework sought and desired by people, ie by winning the hearts of the Saharans.
PM: You mean a wound healing policy?
KOE: Absolutely, unfortunately Saharans were ill-treated.
PM: Why, then, a new edition of Corcas (Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs)? Can we say a new era, new men?
KOE: new era, new tools too. This is indeed a new council in its composition but also in its goals.
PM: New objectives for which role?
KOE: His Majesty the King has given the Corcas, a fundamental role which is to help the preservation of the country’s territorial integrity, as well as the national unity of Moroccans.
This is an extraordinary and exciting mission. So I would say a new tool, new men and new tasks.
PM: His Majesty the King appointed Corcas members so they were not elected. Does the council preserve nevertheless its credibility?
KOE: You should know that the constitution gives His Majesty the right to appoint institutions such as the Royal Council. I think this is the best way to address problems and resolve them.
PM: to What criteria, this royal nomination has obeyed and responded?
KOE: It has obeyed to representativeness. It includes elected officials, community leaders, sheikhs, civil society, women, former prisoners, a mosaic that reflects in a faithful way the Saharan society: So even if this is appointment, we should objectively recognize that it is fully accepted in this part of the Kingdom.
PM: The atmosphere of corcas meetings has not always been quiet, sometimes even tense?
KOE: You know in democracy, there is no uniformity of position or point of view. This is a good sign.
However, as far as we are concerned, the atmosphere was fraternal and friendly. All Participants expressed unshakeable will to accomplish the our task.
PM: Did democracy spirit prevail?
KOE: Yes, this is an exercise in democracy, we have been trained to democracy.
PM: How Corcas office was elected? According to echoes, it was not a fun time?
KOE: The election took place in complete transparency and honesty. Everything happened in broad daylight and in view of all members, we have nothing to hide.
PM: Did you find some equilibrium in the office composition?
KOE: Ballots clearly coincided with the desired objective, ie regional, tribal, age and generation balance.
And I can confirm that members have demonstrated enough maturity to elect members who match the desire of everyone.
PM: And This did not prevent you from getting angry when you found six invalid ballots, a way perhaps to show displeasure or dissatisfaction?
KOE: There were actually six invalid ballots, there was a mistake because we did not know to whom they were addressed. But they were cancelled because it was agreed that candidate's name should be written.
Two other ballots were blank. This means normal, respectable and democratic abstention. Either the voter did not want to choose between candidates, or it is a normal expression of abstention. I found that it is was a choice that must be respected.
PM: And what about the other two with the words zero out of zero?
KOE: I simply felt that they did not meet the criteria because they expressed a position. One bore the words "zero-zero" and the other gave the 3 out of 9.
PM: That is what made you angry?
KOE: not angry. I took advantage out of this to make a comment. People have the right to abstain.
Thank God we are at an advanced phase of democracy, as they have the right not to vote, but have no right to be a member of an institution they criticize this way, that is to say secretly.
I asked the person who assessed in this manner also to show courage, honesty and dignity by resigning and leaving an institution with which he does not agree.
PM: Some members spoke even of exclusion, for those who did not figure in the office list?
KOE: Absolutely not. Applications were duly opened. 15 members were presented, two left. Therefore, 13 members remained in contention and as you know, nine of them were elected in the most democratic and transparent possible manner.
All members can confirm it. No candidate who expressed his willingness and his right to be candidate for the office was excluded.
PM: There has been talk of the supremacy of the Rgibat tribe?
KOE: This is an outdated matter that we would like to banish. For me and for all corcas members, nobody in the room talked about tribes.
PM: It has been said outside?
KOE: Outside the room everyone is free, we can not forbid people to talk about what they want.
There was no hegemonism by a particular tribe or another. All tribes were represented in a fair, balanced and proportional way.
Rguibate does not dominate the Council at all, as everywhere in the world, especially in the Arab-Islamic societies that are based on tribal or regional systems. In Corcas, we talk about our lofty task, not these things.
PM: has the election of the office reflected this spirit, this way of thinking?
KOE: The election took place in full transparency has demonstrated the maturity of the Council members who have not elected the council as a tribe, but who sought to preserve the balance that was obviously normal, without saying so explicitly, but through their secret votes in a transparent manner.
PM: these tribes would have been invited to dinner the day before the vote, to coordinate their vote and agree on the candidate of each tribe?
KOE: This is not true, otherwise we would then have presented nine candidates. Probably, There have been consultations which is normal. I and the secretary-general made private consultations with every member.
PM: it makes a lot of consultation, 141 members?
KOE: We have consulted one by one, and we saw that the elections were conducted in full transparency.
PM: Personalities from the Interior Ministry attended the vote. Mr. Boufous has explained the voting method?
KOE: I want to take this opportunity to clarify some things. The dahirs that creates the Royal Advisory Council define, in clear and unambiguous way, Corcas nature, its missions and competencies.
This council is composed of various colleges who represent the different components of Saharan society: sheikhs, deputies, councillors of the 2nd House, presidents of regional councils, chairmen of the provincial councils, some members of business chambers, youth, women, civil society, former prisoners.…. all this socio-political landscape.
Also members of this council, the Minister of the Interior, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, walis and governors of the southern provinces, director of the agency for the development and promotion of the southern provinces and three directors of the regional investment centres.
Accordingly, people or journalists saw that there were walis and governors of the interior ministry and have concluded what they want. They forget or maybe do not know that they are members.
PM: They have the right to vote?
KOE: They are members but cannot vote.
PM: You have asked Mr. Boufous to enlighten members on the voting process?
KOE: When we were discussing the rules of procedure, discussion was made on the mode of voting, which is also clearly determined by Dahir, Boufous represented the Interior Minister who was not present.
Indeed, the only ones who can be represented are Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Interior.
PM: did you invite Mr. Boufous then?
KOE: We have called upon his experience and expertise since he is a wali who was in charge of elections at the Interior Ministry.
He gave us leagl explanation on vote, that's all. Indeed, it is not the presidency that invited Mr. Boufous, it’s a member in the room who did. He gave a lesson on electoral law.
PM: With Corcas appointment, His Majesty the King brings Saharans before their responsibilities. Do you think that the present council will be able to assume them?
KOE: We wish and hope so. I think the project that we have to make all Sahrawis accept wherever they are, is credible and will help turn the page.
PM: Can we say that with the creation of Corcas, Saharans have already begun handling their affairs democratically?
KOE: Absolutely, it is a large-scale training.
PM: is it a revenge for the past?
KOE: We start to feel fully involved in the process.
PM: With an advantage perhaps?
KOE: Yes, with the huge honour of being directly attached to His Majesty the King.
PM: What is Corcas major mission?
KOE: Helping His Majesty the King preserve the kingdom’s territorial integrity and national unity, and provide all necessary assistance in solving economic and social problems faced by southern provinces.
PM: Maybe also with regard to the proposed broad autonomy proposed by Morocco?
KOE: Absolutely, this is also one of our tasks and concerns.
PM: what is your personal conception of autonomy?
KOE: (laughs) let me keep this for His Majesty the King.
PM: What kind of autonomy?
KOE: I think we are going to opt for the Spanish autonomy which has proved to be successful. We have similar characteristics and are very close.
PM: How will the Royal Council proceed to encourage public opinion and the Saharans participate in politics and contribute to economic and social development in the region?
KOE: very good question that you are asking, which has been in the past at the heart of many problems. The main Corcas mission is to assist the King to definitively turn the page. All Saharans in the southern provinces, or in Tindouf camps, Mauritania, Spain or elsewhere must recognize that the proposed autonomy of His Majesty the King is a project that historically and definitively solve conflicts that Saharans suffered in the past with national administrations since independence.
PM: And in politics?
KOE: Autonomy provides the political, economic, social and cultural rights, in a way finally recognized unanimously by the Moroccan people, and by international institutions. The Saharans will definitely recognize the Moroccanity of the Sahara, their allegiance to the Alaouite throne and to the person of His Majesty King Mohammed VI.
PM: To Whom are you going to explain your strategy?
KOE: to all Sahrawis not only the Polisario Front, because it is a project (broad autonomy) that interests them individually, which is their present and the future of their children. They struggled, some of them for separatism, but it has led to nothing.
PM: So what are the real demands of Saharawis?
KOE: Sahrawis have always asked to have a special relationship with His Majesty the King, to have their place politically and economically maintained.
PM: What has prevented to submit their claims to the King? Were they intercepted somewhere, distorted, first under late Hassan II and today under His Majesty Mohammed VI?
KOE: Maybe not all roads led to Rome.
PM: Can we say that the proposed autonomy is an alternative to the artificial project of division conveyed by the opponents?
KOE: This is the most credible alternative which will transform Morocco as a whole. Morocco is not a country that was truly decentralized, and I do not agree on the fact that "the Jamaa" was an model of centralization in the past.
The King’s project is a final modernization project of Morocco, since it will allow the participation of all components of Moroccans in the management of political, economic, social and cultural affairs. There is a symbol that unites us all, His Majesty the King, the monarchy.
For the other issues, we should respect the different components.
PM: We feel that you are expressing some bitterness that the Saharans was whispering in the past and have expressed today in the form of lapses on the part of young people in particular?
KOE: We, Sahrawis, we have always felt that we are the kingdmo’s pillars. Ask history, it will confirm it, but in modern times they have not found their place. That's why there were lapses. The first one is separatism.
PM: Are Sahrawis aware of these challenges?
KOE: Absolutely, and are prepared to defy them. They will accept to turn, this unfortunate page in our history.
PM: You have said that there has never been independent Sahrawi entity in the Sahara?
KOE: Not at all.
PM: There have been attempts?
KOE: I myself was one of the protagonists who did not want this to happen. When the Spaniards asked me to become the first president of the independent Sahara, I opted for unity. Allegiance has always been to the King of Morocco and Sheikh Mâa Ainaine has always had strong ties with the Sovereign of the Kingdom.
PM: Why refusing this tempting position as President of the Saharawi Republic, while another Moroccan seized it without hesitation?
KOE: thanks to my father. I studied in Spain, so I had no idea about northern Morocco. I was never there before 1975. But my father taught me that we have ties and that out of respect for himself, for his memory, for his conception of unity, we had to respect all this.
PM: He respected allegiance?
KOE: It was sacred to him, as well as religion.
PM: His Majesty the King wanted to make of Corcas an efficient institution in development of the south, of mobilization and supervision of citizens, how do you proceed towards achieving this?
KOE: First through teaching, educating people to discuss in a civilized, positive and pragmatic manner.
PM: discussing what first?
KOE: the region’s problems, many of which are proposed to His Majesty the King, to the administration to be corrected.
PM: Priority problems?
KOE: Problems concerning social injustice, social disparities, the problems of employment and housing of the poor and those dissatisfied with society. There have been social problems that have created problems relating to language and relating to diplomacy treatment.
PM: When you say treatment, you want to say that Sahrawis were not heard with dignity, they were ont involved.
KOE: I personally believe that when Saharawis are convinced that they are respected, all the problems that caused disagreement will disappear. We will explain to all people that they must help His Majesty the King implement autonomy for final settlement of the conflict.
PM: What are the arguments that you are going to use in order to convince?
KOE: It is autonomy that will allow them self-management, participate widely in the management of their affairs and resolve all political, economic, social problems.
PM: When you talk about problems that have led to disagreement do you mean that authorities, political parties misbehaved.. ?
KOE: I mean no one in particular. I observe. His Majesty the King has asked us identify problems, we will do so.
PM: What initiative are you going to adopt for the return of Moroccans sequestered in Tindouf?
KOE: We will make them opt for autonomy.
PM: How? Can you reach to them inside camps? By which means?
KOE: first by television and by all possible means of communication.
PM: Morocco has always opted for dialogue and wisdom, opponents opt for escalation.
KOE: There is no space for this kind of hysteria, we are going to abide by the royal mission, which is a mission of harmony, friendship, brotherhood and peace.
PM: is it a message?
KOE: This is our position.
PM: What about laayoune nowadays?
KOE: I have had the honour to contribute to this change as Mayor of the city, which will change further through peace and become the capital of the South. It's a bit a small model of Casablanca in the South.
PM: Can you say that elected officials are satisfied with your mission as Mayor?
KOE: yes, if they are honest.
PM: What are the achievements you are proud of?
KOE: All without exception. Laayoune is a metropolis that has emerged from the desert.
PM: Why did you disappear for years?
KOE: This is life rules. When you are not happy, you take your take your time, make a vacuum yourself, leave things to settle, and then reappear positively.
PM: what caused your dissatisfaction?
KOE: many things.
PM: For example?
KOE: (laughs) I do not want to mention names. Forgetfulness is a divine blessing. I decided to devote myself to the present and future.
PM: Corcas headquarters?
KOE: In Rabat, of course, near His Majesty the King.
PM: Nothing is planned at Laayoune?
KOE: We will see what HM the King will decide.
PM: Can you name some great achievements of King?
KOE: Great. HM works a lot for the development of Morocco. He is revolutionizing Morocco.
PM: The representation of women in Corcas?
KOE: It is 10 percent, undeniable representation that we are proud of.
PM: Are you going to try to reach Saharawis abroad?
KOE: There are many in Europe, particularly Spain. This autonomy concerns them and their children. They can therefore choose autonomy and live wherever they want. This is the project of every Sahrawi, man or woman, wherever they are. It's great, is not it? It is the historic reconciliation initiated by the King.
PM: Are you going to try to reach to Saharawis within Polisario as well?
KOE: especially young people who have grown up and who received education in Cuba and in other countries who are currently in the camps where they no longer want to live. They do not want war but live freely in their country and have the guarantee that this will give them political, economic and socio-cultural rights.
PM: Is Corcas now ready and willing to carry out fruitful dialogue with Polisario leaders?
KOE: Mohamed Abdelaziz is our brother, our cousin, we can talk with him at any time. Besides, his father, a former member of the Liberation Army and former officer in the Royal Army Forces, is a distinguished member of Corcas. We are therefore open to talk with Mohamed Abdelaziz.
PM: Will Abdelaziz have a responsibility within this autonomy?
KOE: Provided that he pays allegiance as all Moroccans and kisses the hand of His Majesty the King. This is the major condition.
PM: What responsibility might M. Abdelaziz have?
KOE: He has the right to become the leader of the first local government; we will help him. However, he must recognize that the Sahara is Moroccan, recognizes Moroccan sovereignty and pay allegiance to the King. These are indisputable things as is the case with countries that have autonomy. Spain, Britain…
For Saharawis, the attachment to the King is more important than the commitment to rights. And loyalty is the backbone of all this.
Source: Le Point magazine
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