The Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid said that Spain will win a lot from the settlement of the Western Sahara conflict, highlighting the Spanish have nothing to do with the outbreak of this conflict and the creation of "Polisario".
Mr. Ould Errachid added in an exclusive interview with "La Razon", "Spain is the closest to the Maghreb region, and will gain geographically and strategically" from settling the conflict in the Sahara.
The president of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, who is in a working visit to Spain for five days said that the autonomy proposal is the only viable solution to put an end to this conflict, which entered, "a stage of infertility that can only result in negative consequences."
“The referendum solution which was chosen at the outset by the United Nations before abandoning it is not appropriate at all, stressing that the creation of small entity on the basis of clan and tribes will only lead to endless war, as in Sudan, Somalia and Rwanda.
He pointed out that the continuation of this conflict is due to the fact that "the United Nations chose the wrong mechanism through a referendum based on identification, a mechanism which has never been applied in any region of the world," adding that the Spanish census in 1974 excluded a range of Sahrawi groups and tribes that live away from the city of Laayoune on the border of Algeria, Mauritania and Mali.
Mr. Ould Errachid said that the only appropriate solution is to give enlarged autonomy that will enable Sahrawis handle their political, economic, social and cultural affairs under Moroccan sovereignty.
The chairman of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs called on officials of the "Polisario" to get rid of "unique thought and unique thesis" and be democratic to contribute to this autonomy solution in the Sahara.
With regard to the creation of the Council and the tasks entrusted to it by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, he said "His Majesty the King wanted to reconcile the Moroccan administration with Sahrawis."
Some people say that Spain regrets abandoning Sahrawis…
There are some persons who try to accuse Spain for having abandoned the territory. It is not true. Spain abides by what has been the most important thing for itself: to maintain the historically important relations with Morocco, the nearest Muslim and Arab country to it on all aspects: human, historic and strategic.
Could Spanish decolonization have been done otherwise?
No. History does not change.
But the conflict is always present?
The emergence of the conflict along with the creation of Polisario are strange for Spain and the Spanish.
What would Spain gain from the resolution of the Sahara conflict?
Geographically and strategically speaking, Spain is the nearest country to the Maghreb. It will gain a lot. The Maghreb is the only viable zone of the Arab World and Africa. The conflict has come to a sterile stage which brings positive things only.
In which sense?
It is a conflict which has gone through two stages: war time from 1976 until 1991; the second stage continues until nowadays.
But there are other causes…?
Yes. There are some causes related to the region namely Sahrawis’ claims. In 1972, the students of the Rabat University expressed a real claim. They protested against their economic situation and political marginalization.
Why has conflict not been resolved yet?
Because the UN has opted for a bad mechanism: self-determination process via a referendum based upon identification which has never been implemented before.
There was the Spanish census?
This census concerned the Saharan tribes which lived in a region near the city of Laayoune. However, these same tribes are present in Mauritania, Algeria, Mali and in the South of what was Morocco. Therefore, the UN became aware of the fact that it is impossible technically to organize a referendum and that that other methods should be found.
There are two: people should stay where they are or autonomy which will deeply change the Moroccan state.
What is your argument?
To admit that power does not come from the top authority but from the people’s consent.
And what can it deal with?
All political, economic, social and cultural issues. That is, personality, identity, tradition and all local authenticity. Absolutely all, except sovereignty attributes.
What about controlling natural resources?
This point will be discussed at the time of the plan’s adjustment.
Do Moroccan political parties benefit from a popular support in the Sahara?
The Sahara has always been a tribal society which does not correspond exactly to the traditional political schemes even if they are represented in the CORCAS itself.
Why the Royal Advisory Council has been created?
The king wants the Moroccan administration to make it up definitively with Sahrawis. It was held guilty of the creation of Polisario because it did not take into account that we are an important historic component of Morocco.
Who profits from maintaining the statu quo?
Those who made of the Sahara a personal affair.
What do the neighbouring countries say?
Algeria says it is not implicated in this affair. However, it is supposed to help us resolve this problem.
What is going on in Sahel Sahara?
This region witnesses the emergence of a dangerous zone which lacks laws and order. There is a daily increase in unlawful immigration and uncontrolled circulation of weapons.
Is it possible to found a new state in the Sahara?
The creation of states which are founded on tribalism has done a lot of harm in Africa. Somalia, genocide in Rwanda and Darfur tragedy are some negative examples of tribalism.
Is there any risk of terrorism production in the region?
Sahrawis are not terrorists. However, some terrorist groups, coming from other regions, can settle in this zone.
What role can Polisario play in autonomy?
It can be the governing party. I have asked my brother Mohamed Abdelaziz to preside autonomy.
Under which conditions?
The Polisario Front is a politico-military movement which has a unique thought and doctrine. It should be democratized.
What should it change?
Dialogue rejection which is not in line with Sahrawis interests. It should stop claiming that it is the “unique representative of Sahrawis”.
Polisario announced its intention to start dialogue with Algeria…
Since Abdelaziz Buteflika is a Head of State; he should ask for the king’s permission to meet it. I would like to him that it is the best solution for all parties.
A clever politician
Khalihenna Ould Errachid is probably the cleverest political Sahrawi man. He has recently been appointed by HM the King Mohammed VI as chairman of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs. Having received a Spanish training, he spent his childhood and adolescence in the Spanish schools. During the last period of Franco’s life, he founded the Sahrawi National Union Party (PNUS). At the time of decolonization, the PNUS could not resist the young separatist pressure backing Polisario. Khalihenna Ould Errachid adapted to changes and remained in the territories occupied by Morocco.
During the 80s, he was appointed president of Laayoune municipal council and contributed to the modernization of “Moroccan Sahara” for which Hassan II spent twenty thousand million Dirhams (two billion euros).
At the end of 90s, Khalihenna Ould Errachid essaya tried in vain to build an autonomist party. He is considered as the most capable person to build a bridge between Morocco and Spain and to reconcile Sahrawis.