ALM: what are the achievements realized by the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs?
Khallihenna Ould Errachid: after three months, many achievements have been realized. At the beginning, we have outlined the Council’s structures. We held a session to elect organs, i.e. vice-presidents in addition to the elaboration of the internal regulations. We also held an extraordinary session relating to autonomy project followed by a communication campaign at the national and international levels. At the national level, we paid a visit to the southern provinces in order to explain the objectives and mission that HM the King fixed for the Council. We met people to discuss political, social, economic problems in addition to Human Rights. We intervened with HM the King to ask amnesty for detainees accused in the last events which took place in the southern provinces. This visit aimed at creating appeasement. We explained to people their rights relating to freedom of speech and opinion. We told them that this freedom should not be confused with violence. It was necessary to explain it. All in all, this work raised people’s hope regarding a situation change incarnated by autonomy project, the rights it guarantees…
Accordingly, people see hope and optimism for the future. There is no political vacuum. Now, people know that there is a body close to HM the king which thinks about their economic, political, social and cultural problems. This is exactly what has created hope. One of the tangible measures which raised this hope is the amnesty decided by HM the King.
Regarding the extraordinary session relating to autonomy project, do proposals made by the Council’s members meet your expectations?
It was the first time that some people discussed an autonomy project. The speeches gave many ideas and propositions which led to a first version. This document will be submitted to a work team. We are still working on the shaping of these speeches. The work team is dealing with the text. I would like to say that the speeches were closed to the general public during three days: 25, 26 and 27 March 2006. During the first day, everybody hesitated to talk about new things. This is why speeches of the first day were timid, but immediately after the first day speeches became more interesting.
What do you think about autonomy?
Some authorities belong exclusively to the state i.e. indisputable such as (foreign affairs, defence, flag, stamps, etc). Then, there are some exclusive prerogatives for the future autonomous entity. In addition, there are some shared competencies especially in the economic field.
Do you maintain your suggestion for Mohamed Abdelaziz to preside the future autonomous entity?
Yes. Our mission is reconciliatory. Autonomy project aims at resolving the Sahara issue in a peaceful way without winner or looser and in a way that respects the dignity of all parties.
Why has not he responded to this offer yet?
I think he is thinking about it… it requires some time… obviously…
Have you ever imagined yourself president of this autonomous entity?
I could have answered this question if I were not CORCAS chairman. Therefore, any answer to this question would be interpreted as a position so I will not give any answer…
You have always supported the fact that this conflict is an internal issue. Is Algeria playing a role in this conflict?
The Sahara conflict is an internal issue. it is the truth. The conflict is caused by the great opposition between the authority and other oppositions. We can say that it is a part of the Black Years. Polisario was born from our past, before 36 years, from our internal conflicts and clashes. It is one of the internal braches which has not benefited from the general reconciliation which took place in Morocco since the enthronement of his Majesty King Mohammed VI. This shows that it is an internal conflict. The problem lasted because it was given an international dimension. Other parties were implicated, without mentioning their names, not Algeria only. Naturally, this resulted from the various and multiple ideological inter-Arab conflict of the 70s. It is up to academicians and historians to explain the real origins of this conflict. But only when all the ones who took part during this period will be definitively appeased and when historians will manage to treat these events as a historic substance without injuring anybody.
You are you saying that Algeria doest not play a major part in the conflict, so why did you decide to contact Algerian authorities? Is it not contradictory?
It is Algeria itself which says that it is not a stakeholder. I am obliged to believe it. It is necessary to settle the conflict. Algeria has also been victim of the context and there have been a lot of psychological walls built between us. These walls should be destroyed for the best of the Maghreb in general and for the best of Morocco and Algeria in particular.
There is no contradiction. Polisario and Tindouf camps are in Algeria and, as everybody knows, Algeria influences Polisario leaders. I like to go to Algeria to tell its leaders that the Polisario Front is not the only and legitimate representative of Sahrawi people and that the overwhelming majority of Sahrawis respect Algeria and whish that it would use its influence on Polisario heads to convince them conclude a definitive peace which preserves the interests of all parties where everybody will be winner. This solution will be autonomy which I qualify as a miraculous solution since every party will benefit from the definitive reconciliation without lingering too much because of the past in order to edify the Maghreb from Nouakchott, Laayoune and Benghazi. I will call for the good offices of Algeria.
Some disagreements have emerged in the Council over work missions abroad relating to the designation of delegations’ members. How do you explain these disagreements?
It is the president who designs delegations. He appoints the persons whom he thinks they are skilled to carry out this work. When necessary, I may even call for people who are not members of the Council.
How do you evaluate the Council’s diplomatic mission abroad?
We started this mission by a meeting with the President of the Popular Republic of China when he visited Morocco. It was our first diplomatic activity. Then, after a visit to France and Spain, we received a delegation of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Rabat.
In addition, we paid a visit to Belgium and to European institutions (European Council, European Commission and European Parliament). We also received the US ambassador in Rabat. During these travels, we met a number of political and parliamentary leaders, leaders of political parties (be they members of the majority or opposition). We explained to our interlocutors the mission that HM the King entrusted to the Council. We told them that autonomy project is a definitive solution to the Sahara conflict. In addition to these visits, we met the media, civil society, and European thinkers. All these people welcomed the creation of the Council and seek a definitive and honourable way-out to this conflict which has lasted for a long time. They all believe that autonomy project is in perfect line with the consensual political solution sought by the UN. Everybody wholeheartedly hopes that this problem will be solved as soon as possible because they want the Maghreb to become an equal interlocutor to the rest of the world.
Your declarations to the media arouse agitations. Why are your speeches disturbing?
My speeches are not ordinary. I do not use wooden speech. I think I am convinced that it is the best language to find a definitive solution to Sahara by preserving the dignity of all parties. However, if somebody has a better idea, it is welcome.