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Friday, October 07, 2022
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Khalihenna: I call on Algeria to be consistent with its permanent declaration it is not interested in the Sahara

Algeria is asked to help find a solution to Sahara issue through easing dialogue with Sahrawis “ who live in its territory”, said the chairman of the Royal Advisory Council for Sahran Affairs, Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid in an interview published on July 4 in the Belgo-Moroccan website "wafin.be" ,  believing that autonomy will be beneficial for everybody.



"Wafin.be: who is CORCAS chairman?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: I was born in Laayoune where I had my primary and secondary education. I did my high studies in the Madrid Engineering School.  At 23 years old, I founded the Sahrawi National Union Party (PNOUS). This party was intended to found the state that the Spanish wanted to set up in Sahara. I was expected to be the head of this state.

However, because of my education, I refused this position. I did not want to take part in the implementation of this project. Therefore, I rejected this career that the Spanish proposed to me and I went to late king Hassan II, may God rest his soul in peace. Since then, i.e. between May 1975 and October 16, 1975, when His Majesty announced the Green March, I was a close collaborator to His Majesty Hassan II for the preparation of the Green March on the diplomatic, strategic and technical aspect. I took part in the fulfilment of the Green March and the last victory. In addition, I had the opportunity, during this period, to carry out a number of missions throughout the world: in America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.  I also had the privilege to be chosen by King Hassan II to defend the Madrid Accords in the UN Security Council in November 1975.

After the recovery of the territories on February 28, 1976, I spent all the 1976 year in the establishment of the national administration in the region. At the beginning of 1977, I had the privilege to participate for the first time in the government of that time. I stayed in the government until 1992 and had different positions. At first, I was in charge of Saharan affairs, after, I was minister in charge of development of Saharan provinces until August 1992. I am also mayor of the city of Laayoune since 1983. I was a representative of laayoune for 25 years, from 1977 until 2002.

Wafin.be: with which party?

Khalihenna Ould Errachid: various parties, at the beginning, in 1977, I was one of the founders of National Rally of Independents (RNI) with Mr. Ahmed Ousmane. Afterwards, in 1980, there was a scission in this movement. It was a great group with 200 representatives. The National Democratic Party was founded. I took part in its foundation and belonged to until I left politics. In 2000, I had the privilege to be chosen by His Majesty Mohammed VI to take part in negotiations with James Baker. I participated also in three meetings which took place in London and Berlin.

Wafin.be:  after a period when nothing happened and, to the astonishment of everybody, Mohammed VI announced the setting up of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan affairs ( CORCAS) of which you are the chairman. There were certainly some consultations before the creation of this Council, what happened exactly, and what is the CORCAS mission?

Khalihenna Ould Errachid: I will not talk about the period preceding CORCAS… on March 25, His Majesty founded CORCAS and entrusted it with a great and lofty mission which was described in the Royal Decree creating it and it is divided into three parts: 1- Preserve national integrity 2- Help His Majesty preserve national integrity 3- carry out all measures required for the economic, social and political development of the Sahara. And of course, implement His Majesty’s project relating to autonomy.

Wafin.be: CORCAS is composed of 141 members representing all Sahrawi population, they are managers, tribes’ heads, and young people, with a 10% quota for women, could you describe this structure?

 
Khalihenna Ould Errachid:  the CORCAS is a Royal Institution directly depending on His Majesty. It is composed of 141 members who represent Sahrawi society. This institution was not elected. It was appointed. However, its members are the current elite of the Sahara. They are elected members, intellectuals, notables, civil society, women, youth, chioukhs, everybody…

It is a real representation of Sahrawi society as traditionally done i.e. by co-optation.  Our mission began on March 25, 2006 in Laayoune and since then we work so hard. In addition to our diplomatic, economic and social task in the South, we are working on an important autonomy project.

We are working on its legal, regular and administrative elaboration. This project will revolutionize Morocco. Our visit to Brussels comes within the framework of our diplomatic efforts deployed abroad to explain our mission and present our autonomy project.


Wafin.be: at the end of this cognitive task, a work will be submitted to the King before being presented to the UN?

Khalihenna Ould Errachid: the date of the submission of the project which will be submitted to the UN will be fixed by His Majesty. The procedure will be as follows: HM the King will hold consultations with political parties. He will hold consultations with CORCAS which is preparing the autonomy project. On the basis of a number of consultations, HM the King will elaborate the final project which will be submitted on the fixed date.

Wafin.be:  what is your timing for presenting your conclusions and autonomy project?

Khalihenna Ould Errachid:
October 2006.

Wafin.be: too short, is not it?

Khalihenna Ould Errachid: if we work hard, we will respect this deadline.

Wafin.be: In Morocco, whenever there is a crisis, we resort to the creation of a body called independent or advisory, it was the case with Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER), the Advisory Council for Human Affairs (CCDH), the Commission of the New Family Code (Moudawana) and so on… it has almost become a Moroccan specialty to settle crises?


Khalihenna Ould Errachid: it is not particular in Morocco. Westerners also create a number of institutions for specific problems. For example, for the European Constitution, they have made an agreement! For specific problems, there should be specific problems.

The Sahara issue is so important that HM the King has created CORCAS. In addition, it is the only Royal Council in Morocco. Our mission is not to be an entity, not an administrative body, it is advisory but not like parliament, it is not an executive council; it is a tool of HM the king. He asked us to carry out diplomatic missions, prepare autonomy project and fulfil any action relating to this.

Wafin.be: before talking about CORCAS, we would like to go back to the Western Sahara history. Briefly, there have been three major tendencies when Spanish left: two wanted to join Morocco, including your party and the General Assembly which was presided by Mr. El Joummani, then, there was the separatist party. The latter settled abroad, mainly in Algeria, this tendency was and still very present. Could you tell us more about these historic elements?

Khalihenna Ould Errachid: First, let me tell something very important: the Polisario Front was not founded by people who lived under the Spanish occupation. They are Moroccans from Sahrawi origins who studied at Mohammed V University in Rabat and who were hostile to Morocco’s political situation at that time. It was these people who founded Polisario. It is we, i.e. people who lived with the Spanish, who had their education and were trained in their universities who created the opposing movement.

That is to say that it was we who refused to establish a state by the Spanish and opted for unity of Moroccans, whether inside the PNOUS which was the modern party or at the General  Assembly “jamaa " which was composed of heads of tribes (Chioukhs). All Sahrawis who lived under the Spanish occupation opted for unity. They were our students, our brothers and our cousins who belonged to the regions of Tan-Tan, Goulmim, Assa, who belonged to the free Morocco, it was these people who founded Polisario in 1973.

Wafin.be: what were the motives behind the creation of polisario?

Khalihenna Ould Errachid: the region was marginalized at that time, they were legitimate claims then. There was no development, no roads, no electricity, no phone... It is normal that some young students wanted to protest.

Protesting at that period was fashionable. To be rebels like Che Guevara, or Hippi as was common in 70s!  Without forgetting Pan-Arabism, conflict with Algeria, and the situation inside Morocco which was not brilliant. All these elements fed Polisario. I always say that the Sahara issue is a Morocco-Moroccan problem, an internal problem.

Clearly it has taken an international dimension but it was mainly due to the context: conflict with Algeria, Libyan opposition to our monarchical system, inter-Arab conflicts, and especially the Cold War. Morocco sided with the western bloc while Algeria and Libya supported the Eastern bloc.  

All in all, all these facts have contributed to the emergence of Polisario which was a problem subsidiary to the Sahara issue! The Spanish concluded an agreement with Morocco which did not use power enter to the Sahara. It did not violate any international law’s rules.

It sought the Hague International Court, then, it negotiated with Spain. Morocco signed an agreement according to the rules of the duly ratified International Law. I had the privilege to ratify this agreement in the Security Council in November 1975. The aggravation of the Polisario problem came later bringing about other causes. It was added to the Spanish-Moroccan affair. The Spanish-Moroccan affair is neither a cause of the Sahara conflict nor of the war that we had.

Wafin.be: after almost three decades of political setbacks, wars and failing agreements, Morocco puts forward the thesis that it is a Morocco-Moroccan problem to which it was given an international dimension, we did not dare to say this before…

Khalihenna Ould Errachid: it is normal! It is true that when there was war, we were not heard. War policy was applied. However, Morocco won the war… when cease fire was implemented, there was a process supervised by the UN i.e the settlement plan. Facts showed that this plan was going to fail. It is impossible to organize a fair referendum if we do not change frontiers! the Sahara population goes beyond the Moroccan and Algerian frontiers …

Wafin.be: hence the census problem!

Khalihenna Ould Errachid:Yes, and alos the failure of the mission of Mr. James Baker and the others. It is impossible to organize a referendum in the Sahara. Absolutely impossible. It is not because Morocco is not willing, but technically and politically speaking, it is impossible to fulfil. For this reason, the UN has never finished a similar referendum. There has never been a referendum based upon identification. This is why it failed.


Wafin.be: though at the beginning it was in favour of a referendum, what pushed Morocco to change its mind?
 
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: Today, Morocco is sufficiently strong and sufficiently equipped to make a revolutionary proposal!  Morocco was not administratively, politically, diplomatically and economically ready. The Sahara positively changed Morocco.

Wafin.be: nevertheless, there was a war which cost a lot in terms of human lives and tragedies and financial costs, the war left a lot of damage?

Khalihenna Ould Errachid: not only this, it is sad to say, but there were also positive things. The Sahara contributed to the blooming of Morocco, to the redeployment of Morocco in the world and inside the country too; it contributed to the Moroccan unanimity; it contributed to the emergence of the Moroccan democratic process and of a new Moroccan society. The Sahara has not been negative for Morocco, it has been positive indeed.

Its influence on Morocco is so strong that it can inspire us and inspire His Majesty to carry out a new stage by proposing autonomy. Autonomy is a great bet, a challenge launched not only to us, but also to Africans and Arabs…

Wafin.be: in which sense?

Khalihenna Ould Errachid: in the sense that we should govern our countries in a way that satisfies our populations. This is autonomy challenge. It will deeply change our country, administratively, constitutionally, democratically, mentally, economically…

 Wafin.be:  let’s restore facts’ order: after the failure of Mr. Baker mission, there was a time of reflection by both sides; worse, weapons were about to be held again?

Khalihenna Ould Errachid: these are absurd threats!

Wafin.be: is yoyr mission to contact the other party… the Polisario?

Of course, it is our first mission! It is my main task! However, you should know that autonomy is not addressed to Polisario only. It is addressed to all Sahrawis. In addition to polisario, I address all Sahrawis…

It is the project of every Sahrawi; every Sahrawi should adopt it since it is linked to its future. Polisario cannot create an obstacle to this…

 Wafin.be: have you contacted it ?

Khalihenna Ould Errachid: of course, everyday. We invite them to negotiate. Polisario is not a democratic movement. It does not want to hold dialogue; it sticks to the past; it is very doctrinal and dogmatic, it dreads openness and contradiction. This is the reason why it expresses itself in a limited circle. However, we will push it by many means to negotiate.

Wafin.be: what is the role of Algeria in all this process?

Khalihenna Ould Errachid: everybody knows that Algeria helps Polisario. It is not a secret. So far, I have not heard anything relating to the CORCAS. I call for Algeria to respect what it says everywhere that it is not concerned about the Sahara affair.

It says that this affair concerns Sahrawis, Morocco, and the UN. We ask Algeria to help us find a beneficial solution for all parties. A solution that will help Algeria leave honourably this crisis and help the Maghreb make and end to the deadlock it witnesses at present. Algeria has to make something to save face. We do not want to humiliate Algeria. We want it to be our everlasting neighbour and ask it to help us hold dialogue with our brothers who live in its territory. As everybody knows, refugees camps are in Algeria camps… Algeria is a prerequisite step to hold dialogue with Polisario. We call for it to encourage this by to contacting the CORCAS immediately.

Wafin.be: this autonomy will be economic, administrative like the Spanish model? A sort of the federal regime?

Khalihenna Ould Errachid: first, the regime will not be federal. Second, no country has an autonomy which is base upon the model of another country. Every country has its own model of autonomy. We will make a Moroccan autonomy project inspired by successful models in the world. Since we are open to the world, it is normal that we are inspired by Spain, Italy and other successful experiences. However, we will, propose an autonomy which satisfies particular interests and specificities of the kingdom of Morocco. I can say nothing about what is being prepared, but can tell that it will be a political autonomy.

Wafin.be: a last word to the Moroccan citizens living abroad in general and particularly to those living in Belgium ?

Khalihenna Ould Errachid: our community can do a lot for the Saharan cause. It is active. We call  for it to go on defending our national cause until the last victory ».

 

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