Mr Khalihenna talked in this live show, which receives questions and calls from Moroccan citizens, about the achievement of the council and its assessment of year 2009, and also the main successes of the council stressing on the diplomatic achievements which led to change the position the international community and the UN security council about the Sahara issue, in a short time since the creation of the council by his Majesty the King in Marsh 2006 and the presentation of the autonomy proposal, which allowed Morocco to be in “a comfortable situation” such situation Morocco did not enjoy in the past and “allows it to become a winner at the end”
Mr Khalihenna indicated in this context the reflux of the influence of Algeria on the Moroccan position in terms of its just cause, he said: “Algeria constitutes a problem to build up of the Arab Maghreb, but it is not an obstacle for the victory of Morocco in the Sahara issue”
As to the nature of the Council’s activities and its powers, Mr Khalihenna said that the particularity of the council created by a Royal decree means that the framework of its activities is very wide, and includes various fields and issues related to all maters concerning the southern provinces, and that the solution of the Sahara issue “requires a huge national effort” indicating that the Sahara affair is following the right path.
The chairman of the council tackled the communication policy of the council which helps, thanks to the creation of a number of sites which are updated on daily basis using eight languages, to break the domination of the Polisario in the field of the international net, and to change the wrong picture given about the Sahara issue.
Full text of the interview:
Aswat : we will start our dialogue today , making an assessment of the Sahara conflict during year 2009 , Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid chairman of the Royal advisory council for Saharan affairs , Good evening and welcome to the live show of Aswat and “ yaoumiates Oulad Lablad”.
Khalihenna Ould Errachid : good evening
Aswat : thank you for accepting our invitation, even if unfortunately your commitments do not allow you to be with us here in the studio, but you are with us through the phone from Rabat
Khalihenna Ould Errachid : welcome
Aswat :his Majesty the king nominated you as the chairman of the royal advisory council for Saharan affairs during March 2006 . You were born in Layoune , you are 58 years old, and you have contributed to the strategic , political and security of the green march .from 1977 to 1995 You have been minister of Sahraoui provinces development . Late Hassan II sent abroad for diplomatic missions to the United Nations, the non aligned organization and the African unity organization. Your political journey is rich in terms of responsibility. Mr Ould Errachid , Aminatou Haidar came back yesterday to Morocco, what is your comment on the Aminatou Haidar’s affair ? How this affair start? How it developed? What is your view concerning the statement published by Morocco today .
Khalihenna Ould Errachid : First of all, thank you to your invitation . Aminatou Haidar’s affair is over, and it is important that this nightmare is finished. We are happy , and I think it deserves no comment .
Awsat: definitely? May be there is a lesson to learn out of the case of Aminatou Haidar?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid : as I said, the conclusion is that the night mare is over , thank God . it was over in an honorable way for Morocco, and did not deserve any more comments. The number of comments that were said during the previous month is enough, that is why we should turn the page, as quick as possible, and from today in my view
Aswat : the council was established since three years and a half ago, and according to the founding Dahir, the missions of the council are to assist his majesty in terms of keeping the territorial integrity of the kingdom. To participate to the economic, social, and cultural development of the Saharan provinces, and to make sure that the Sahraoui and international communities will join the autonomy project . What are your achievements?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid : the achievements of the council are very important and iam saying this without any exaggeration and with all modesty and objectivity .what was achieved during the last past three years and half was a gigantesque and historic job , as Morocco was in a bad situation from the diplomatic level . Moroccan‘s position vis a vis the UN SC was fragile, fragile generally speaking within the Moroccan and international communities. Of course the social and political situation in the region was not stable, it has become worse, and Morocco was in a non comfortable situation.
From the diplomatic point of view Morocco was fragile when it comes to the UN SC, within the Moroccan and international community. Of course the social and political situation in the area was not stable, and even became worse, as well as the situation in Morocco was not comfortable.
Among the main missions of the council was to make sure that changes are made, from bad situation to a better one. Of course we have not changed this situation, on our own, but with the cooperation of all governments departments concerned i.e.: home and foreign ministers, and the government as a whole
We have been working during the last three years and a half, thank God, things have changed tremendously not hundred per cent. Morocco is no longer in a comfortable situation which allows him to win.
Aswat: what are in your opinion the main changes and at what levels?
Khalihenna Oukld Errachid : first of all, concerning the UN , in 2006 the UNSC resolutions required that Morocco organized a referendum in the Sahara. There were no negotiations in this issue. The Sahara affair reached a level of tension, regional and international deadlock and misunderstanding. As from April 2007 , when the Moroccan project of autonomy was presented . The UNSC council changed its view about the Sahara issue by adopting resolution 1754, this resolution came to erase all previous resolutions, making sure that a new process based on negotiations, dialogue, peace, and a search of possible solutions. That is how the process of negotiations between Morocco and polisario, with the presence of Algeria and Mauritania was established
Aswat :…it is for you the main achievement ? What are the other achievements you have talked about ?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid : three other resolutions have followed suit, which confirmed that there is a change in the UN vision in favor of Morocco. Even the concept of self-determination could be conceived not only as being dependant of the referendum, but that autonomy could be self – determination .adding to this after four rounds of negotiations and long discussions between Morocco and Polisario, with the presence of Algeria and Mauritania,, the former UN special envoy of the UN Mr. peter Van Walsum, gave an historic testimony without precedent for Morocco’s right on the Sahara, so he said before the end of his mandate, after having listened to all parties, and have negotiated for one year and a half and also visited the area for three years, that the Sahara issue cannot be solved unless Polisario gives up the choice of independence. It is an extremely diplomatic win for Morocco, and this statement as such is enough point for Morocco.
Aswat : you have started by the achievement of the council at he international level. What are the achievements made at the national level?.. Before giving you the floor Mr Ould Errachid, if you do not mind, there is a listener from the town of Settat Abu Marwan , lawyer , 60 years old , good evening .
Abu marwan : peace be upon you , we salute Mr Khalihenna Oukld Errachid, we salute you and thank you for this show. Concerning the return of Aminatrou haidar, and as Mr Khalihenna said this issue should be over once and for all. Morocco is attached to the Sahara, the Sahara is Moroccan, and will remain, we are soldiers mobilised behind his Majesty the king……… (the communication was interrupted)
Aswat : it seems that your call was interrupted, Abu marwan , thank you for this testimony, which means that we are united when it comes to issues such this one, the question of the territorial integrity, which is a subject of unanimity. Mr Ould Errachid what are the main achievements at the national level?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid ; first of all , the establishment of the council as such is an achievement for the Moroccan cause, this means that the king has changed its policy towards the Sahara in March 2006 . This change has been manifested by making sure that the inhabitants of the region are associated to the management of this issue at both levels home and abroad.
This is the main change: the inhabitants of the region have understood that this voluntarily change made by the king aims at the reconciliation which allows to trust Morocco and to mobilize around its choices and to keep away from anything to do with separatism; it is necessary that they have to play a vital role in its management .
Of course the role of the council came within what I call the atmosphere of softening of the climate of the region ; i.e. : it was necessary to make sure that all injustices in the region are to be dealt with. whether it is political, social,, economical, or legal, in order to give credibility to the council, and also a credibility to the new policy and changes in the Sahara, that is why the council dealt immediately with the general amnesty given by the king in favor of 45 persons, who have been in prison for matters of opinions and political views.
The space of freedom is enlarged: freedom of expression, movement and action without violence, this has opened wide the door to a bigger and larger space which led the region to feel a new orientations, and we aspire autonomy which opens a new page w allowing to carry out the political , economic and social aspirations of the inhabitants .
Aswat : iam taking new calls , live show on Aswat and a show dedicated to the year 2009 achievements of the council; you have the floor, and with us Abdelkrim from Tangiers, 29 years old, trader, go ahead
Abdelkarim :I would like to take part of the Moroccan Sahara’s issue : the “national” council has a feeble message. It failed to improve the image of Morocco, Whereas the separatists have known how to make use of the international tribunes, by presenting themselves being damaged, and victimized by Morocco, whereas it is the contrary which is true .sahraouis are enjoying their rights. If every community wanted to claim independence from Morocco,, then Morocco will be torn apart . The problem in Morocco is its ethnic variety: juifs, Muslims, jbala, amazigh, berbers … Aminatou haidar has given away her Moroccan identity documents , and our diplomacy is slow in anycase.
Aswat :( interrupting him) when you say that the council’s action is poor, you as a Moroccan citizen what do you expect from the council?, what kind of image the council should have presented, as you are talking about the international organizations…… And Mr Khalihenna Ould Errachid is always with us
Abdelkrim :they have to come up with obvious resolutions, they have to confirm the Moroccan right to win back its Sahara . Morocco has proposed a solution which is the autonomy like other countries such as: Spain, suisserland, the world get united and we are not
Aswat : Thank you Abdelkrim for your participation, Mr Ould Errachid what is your answer to Abdelkrim in Tangiers , while we waiting for other calls .
Khalihenna Ould Errachid : I am saying to Abdelkrim , that may be his information is not complete in this respect, and that he’s got a negative view. Iam telling him that things have improved substantially in comparison to the situation in 2006, they have improved to 80per cent. That is why iam inviting him to go to the council’s site , and he will find out the image about Morocco at every single level, we have changed the image on the internet. Before 2006, Polisario dominated the internet sphere. That is why polisario has changed realities, and also the reality of history.
Today all observers , diplomats , academics and journalists who have acces to the internet in order to get information about the Sahara, do not find only front of them the Polisario’s sites to gather information about the Sahara , but also the council’s sites in order to retrieve the exact data about the Sahara. This has contributed in a positive way to make sure that our national cause is known , and also our project
Iam saying to Abdelkrim, of course , this job is hard and requires time . But the results start to appear slowly. Today we feel the results at every single level, as well as the support of the international community to the autonomy proposal.
Aswat : so for you , your duty is clear and visible
Khalihena Ould Errachid :no, first of all it is a political council. Our main interest is the development or employment for instance. Our interest lies also on different subjects which deal with the administration , diplomacy, history , communication , media and also those who have regained the homeland . This means that the sphere of our job is substantial and huge which necessitates a gigantesque effort. But, it requires also that people are ready to find out or learn about things. those who would like to learn about Corcas and its duties , has got to consult the internet and also the Concil available sites in different languages : Arabic, French , Russian , Portuguese, Italian , German , . They will find out about our achievements
Aswat (interrupting) : we have an interlude, and we will get back to you and to your calls after the interlude
Aswat : Mr Khalihenna we are answering back criticism , if I may say so, coming from our listener in Tangiers . I will ask you a question in the same context. I have received during this week chairmen of councils and institutions created by a royal Dahir .and their presidents are subject to criticism from inside their councils and outside; and it is your case. What is the cause of such criticism, particularly from inside the council?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid : before answering you ,I would like to say to Abdelkrim that he has got to visit the site : www.corcas.com and study the subject he will understand the nature of our work.
First of all the council is different from the other ones, they council is in charge of a particular subject. There is a council of human rights, a council of Moroccan community living abroad, and Corcas deals with one particular subject : the Sahara
Some would like us to reach a final settlement to the Sahara crisis; which remains since 1976 without any solution , others would like us to overcome problems of the previous years , within three years of the creation of Corcas. Secondly, we are not an executive Council; we are an advisory Council to HM the King.
We submit proposals and projects on all diplomatic, political, economic, regional and social aspects concerning the Sahara. This means a broad framework. We have not inherited or been confronted with cases that could be described as a source of quick success. We found significant problems, as I said.
Problems in the field of diplomatic action, problems in the region. It was our duty to resolve anomalies. We have reformed the dysfunctions in collaboration with all government departments. Now it appears that things are going in the right direction, despite this, it is not possible to settle the Sahara issue with the seal of Solomon or the Staff of Moses.
This issue requires a well studied and a large national action, diligence, consistency, unanimity, transparency, and positive results to convince concerned people. These are Sahrawis threatened on a daily basis by the operation of separatism from the Polisario Front and those who help them. .
The main positive point I told you, is that we stopped the bleeding in the separatist region. We have started a new phase which is to persuade persons in Tindouf and Polisario Front that separatism is not a positive choice for Saharawis and autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty and the preservation of the territorial integrity is a choice, better than separatism supported by foreigners. This great work must be measured and we must imagine what we should achieve. A period of 3 years and half is not enough.
Aswat: Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid, maybe I'll re-ask my question about criticism addressed to you within the Council, what is its source?
Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid: (interrupting) What kind of criticism? First, unanimity on everything does not exist. Everyone, everywhere, may suffer from criticism. The Council consists of 141 members, 10% women, all political parties, social strata, including the unemployed and the richest people in the Sahara, bringing together former prisoners, youth and seniors, Conservatives and Modernists. The Council is a mixture of people from various tendencies, and it was necessary for this Council to reach a peaceful harbor. Criticism comes from a very small minority. Less than 5% of those who interpret the founding Dahir as they wish ...
Aswat: ... (interrupting) We understand the answer of Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid and we still have many questions. And of course, our listeners can intervene. With your permission, we will take the call of Ahmed from Casablanca Ahmed ... shopkeeper, 55, welcome to Aswat, go ahead
Ahmed: First, I would like to congratulate the Council’s President and wish him every success. There is a meeting in Marrakech (the Fifth Forum of Local Government), let aside the Arab Maghreb, until it matures; Morocco should move towards civil society and West Africa where we have a historical and religious perspective supporting our Sahara. What happens now is the vestige of colonialism and Algeria serves colonialism. And I hope (CORCAS) will work with civil society in Senegal, Mauritania, Mali so that Morocco can serve the development and we wish you every success.
Aswat: Thanks for your call, with us Hassan from Salé, 41, corporate director. Welcome... There are noise problems ... please, could you hang up and recall. With us a communication from Youssef Fes, retired, 68 years old. Go ahead.
Youssef: Thank you Mr. Khalihenna. Thank you for this program. I would like to remind Mr. Khalihenna about Abdelaziz Bouteflika at the time of the Green March in Morocco. Bouteflika was in New York where he said and the recording still exists among journalists that Algeria would help Morocco to recover the Sahara. Back to Algiers, Boumediene objected to his remarks. I would like to remind Bouteflika of his statements. On the other hand, concerning Algeria that upsets Morocco about the Sahara, we know it has the problem of Tindouf close to us. History is not amnesic. The day they held the referendum on independence, the people of Tindouf sent their Caid at the time to us at Zag. They told him: tell Moroccans to come, we want them, we want to be Moroccans. The Zag’s Caid came to see us, I was there and he told us everything. The Super-Caid who was a lieutenant in the army in Tan-Tan in the region of Agadir. We were happy to go to Tindouf. But Hassan said do not go to Tindouf, because if Morocco enters and Algeria gets independence the next day, il will be an aggression in front of the world. Hassan II saw a political end. He asked us to send the flags and pictures of the King and wait…
Aswat: (interrupting) I ask you to cut short Youssef, because we have many calls.
Youssef: Ok, we did that and when Algeria got independence, they removed the flags and photos. The Caid fled to Morocco. Algeria knows that if it gives us the Sahara, it will lose Tindouf, Tindouf people wanted from the start to be Moroccans. Algerians say that we should organize a referendum in the Sahara. If this is how it should be, then we should organize a referendum for the people of Tindouf and ask them if they are Moroccans or Algerians? thank you.
Aswat: Thank Youssef from Fez. Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid do you have a comment on the remarks of listeners before moving to other communications?
Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid: I just want to tell the brothers discussing the question of Algeria, we are in a position where we will win our case, despite opposition from Algeria. Algeria’s opposition is now a problem for the construction of the Maghreb Arab, but it is no longer an obstacle to the success of Morocco for its national cause.
Aswat: We will discuss with you this point; let’s resume at first contact with Hassan, who recalled us. He is from Casablanca, 41, director of a company, go ahead Hassan
Hassan: As Chairman of the Peace without borders Forum, we have scheduled a series of meetings of solidarity with the Sahrawi Moroccans detained in Tindouf camps and on autonomy. We wrote to CORCAS. We held the first meeting in Casablanca on 5-12-2009 and we invited political parties: the Istiqlal Party, the Constitutional Union, the Party of Progress and Socialism, Authenticity and Modernity Party, but Corcas, despite our calls more than 10 times, No one from Corcas was present at this public meeting that was very successful as everyone says. It was also a success on the media plan, it was covered by the second television channel, Al Oula and Al Maghribia. This is question to brother Ould Errachid: associative diplomacy remains an effective diplomacy to the national cause. If we look at associations that supported Aminatou Haider, they were 320 associations. We are now faced with the challenge of national unity and territorial integrity; we should mobilize all political parties, civil society and the entire Moroccan people must be mobilized behind His Majesty the King for to defeat the conspiracy of the Government of Algeria and the Polisario band. We met with our brothers in Tindouf, Vietnam, Venezuela and Uganda. And they all expressed their dissatisfaction and anger. But the intervention of the Algerian secret services during these stages prevented our communication with our brothers. These brothers say that if the opportunity was given to them and if Algeria’s guardianship was lifted, they would return to the homeland ...
Aswat: Hassan ... I would ask you to finish your speech, because we have other communications.
Hassan: Ok, I will conclude my remarks by inviting Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid at this program, to attend the meeting to be held on 9 at the Sports Complex in Fez. I hope he will be with us, because it is our cause for all of us.
Aswat: Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid, what is your response to Hassan who is with us online, waiting the participation of Abdelhakim and others?
Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid: I applaud the work he does and I say to him that our primary effort is directed toward foreigners and camps and he leads a positive action for which I congratulate him and ask him to continue.
Hassan: Thank you very much, and I insist that we’d like you to be with us in Fez inshaAllah
Aswat: InshaAllah, Mr. Ould Errachid it’s up to you to contact them. Hassan thank you, we take a new communication from Tata. Abdelhakim goodnight.
Abdelhakim: Assalamu alaykum. I want to ask Mr. Ould Errachid about the decisions to be taken vis-à-vis people like the so-called Aminetou Haider?
Aswat: (interrupting) Have you been following along Abdelhakim?
Abdelhakim: Frankly no, I did not follow ...
Aswat: It was the first point we have discussed with Mr. Khalihenna.
Abdelhakim: What are the decisions taken concerning these people?
Aswat: Thanks for your call and your participation from Tata. What is your response Mr. Khalihenna for all listeners who have just joined us. Your answer was clear, but can you repeat it?
Mr. Khalihenna: I say we hope that the case of this lady, Aminetu Haidar, will be the first and last of its kind and that it shall not happen again. That is to say that we must avoid anything that may affect directly or indirectly our national cause.
Aswat: Ok, we take Mohamed, 35, businessman from Casablanca. Good evening
Mohamed: Assalamu Alykoum, congratulations for this program and I applaud Mr. Khalihenna for his answers. I just want to say that despite the propaganda launched by Algeria, we won, thank God. It is a very politician propaganda. I like the other answers from the economic point of view. To solve the problem and bring Algiers to its knees, we must solve the economic problem in the Sahara; let’s establish another Dubai or Hong Kong there so that economy can prevail over politics. Thanks to economy, Taiwan discusses with China. That's all and thank you.
Aswat: Thank you Mohamed for the call and for this proposal. Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid, what are the prospects for economic investment in the southern provinces? maybe that perspective will have many advantages as the listener said.
Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid: This is what we have been working for, because the Sahara is a promising region economically and it can become the site of significant investment given its strategic position. It is on the shores of the Atlantic near the Canary Islands and with West Africa. And of course I am in agreement with him on the fact that the economy is important in resolving the thorny political affairs. As he said, in Hong Kong and Taiwan, the economy has done much to control the problems. We hope that with the development and with the correct reception of people who joined, the Moroccan Sahara will become attractive for them in camps and other areas. That the economy becomes the choice that attracts the person to unity instead of separatism.
Aswat: We take a communication from Agadir. Lahcen, 40, farmer. Lahcen goodnight.
Lahcen: Good evening, good year. Congratulations for you and brother Ould Errachid. I have a question.
Aswat: Go ahead Lahcen.
Lahcen: I would like to ask Mr. Ould Errachid, if COrcas is able to produce us as a person like Aminetou Haider, at camps and in the area where detained people live, so that they also can show the world that 'they want to go (to Morocco), and associations help them, like those who helped Haidar? Thank you.
Aswat: Lahcen, your question may need to be more explicit, how Corcas ....
Mr. Khalihenna: (interrupting) I understood his question and it is relevant. We have already started working in this direction. In February 2008, we made 100 people join, 46 families of those who organized what was called Gjijimat Congress, 12 km from Tifariti. They organized it against Polisario and they support autonomy and support unity. 1000 people, that is to say 200 families organized this conference and their vanguard are the 46 families who returned in February 2008. Corcas can continue this work. We can make huge dissidence and actions behind the barrier in the area controlled by Polisario ... what he says is relevant.
Aswat: Thank you, Lahcen for the call from Agadir. Abdallah, 43, corporate director. Good evening.
Abdallah: I would say to our brother Mr. Khalihenna that Aminatou Haider upsets all Moroccans and all Moroccans reject what she did. On the other hand, Algeria is covering its problems. Thank God, Morocco enjoys full security from Tangier to Lagouira under the banner of the young King Mohammed VI, may God assist him. That is to say that Algeria is trying to transfer the state of insecurity that it lives in the Saharan provinces. My question is, can the Advisory Council make a specific history book at schools so that people can know the real history of Morocco. That is to say, different programs from other Moroccan schools?
Aswat: We will let Mr. Khalihenna give us his opinion on this proposal. Thank you for your call from Casablanca. We take a call from Rabat. Moulay Ali, 60, merchant. Good evening Moulay Ali, I hope that your intervention will be short, only 4 minutes remain
Moulay Ali: Hello, first I want to congratulate the honorable guest and experienced politician with great vision. Where are the associations of human rights defense of Moroccans detained in Tindouf camps in a situation that is pathetic, as they speak about one person who has denied homeland. That is my question and thank you for your great guest.
Aswat: Thank you. Mr. Khalihenna what is your comment after the intervention of Moulay Ali and Lahcen, which proposes a different history program?
Mr. Khalihenna: First, since the question of Amnetou Haider continues, I would like to reassure the two brothers who asked questions and the audience in general. They found and for one month, how great was advertising for this lady. Despite the foreign propaganda in her favor and from all supporters of the Polisario Front, they do not represent anyone in the Sahara and no one moved in their favor in Laayoune, Smara, Boujdour , Dakhla, or Aousserd. This is important. This is the achievement I mentioned at the beginning. Sahrawis support autonomy and do not support separatism and therefore they do not support Aminetou Haider or others.
Aswat: Yes, you have clarified this point what about the history program, in short?
Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid: History programs are national programs. Concerning the history of the Sahara, I invite those interested to go to the website: www.sahara-online.net, they will see how we have explained the history with maps since 1912, before Protectorate and after decolonization, the history of the Polisario Front and the current conflict. We have an encyclopedic work in eight languages for those who want to know the inside history, but also for those abroad and those who have a misconception about our national cause.
Aswat: Ok, the message is clear. One last question Mr. Khalihenna. In short, since we have only one minute. At the royal speech of November 6, HM the King announced the forthcoming reform of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs. What needs to be reformed at the Council?
Mr. Khalihenna: No, HM the King announced that a new stage would begin in the Sahara. This stage is called enlarged regionalization. And regionalization requires new mechanisms. The Council will end its term of 4 years, 25 March 2010. The new Council and the Agency for Development of the Provinces will arrive and the policy concerning the Sahara will be determined so as to conform with the new royal choice for the enlarged regionalization. That is to say that we move from the foundation stage which took place during the last four years to a new stage for the new situation that will be that of the future Sahara.
Aswat: They will, God willing, future plans for the southern provinces. Tanhk you, Khalihenna Ould Errachid, Chairman of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, for having responded to the invitation from "Yaoumiates Oulad Lablad" and for this fruitful dialogue you opened with our listeners.
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