The Program Presenter: Thank you.
Abdelouahab Belfkih from Morocco, good evening.
Abdelouahab Belafkih: Good evening, sir
The Program Presenter: Welcome, Go ahead.
Abdelouahab Belafkih: Thank you, sir, I would like to speak about the region and people who want to create a different picture concerning the security situation in the Sahara region. These are lies. I did not have a chance yesterday to talk to Mahfoud Al Biba on various subjects. I take this opportunity now to clarify certain points: Those who speak about the security issue and say there are security violations. Al Jazeera Channel, thank God, has an office in Morocco. It can go and see for itself the Sahara and how security is conducted in the Sahara. Thank God, there are no violations. The Sahraouis have full rights and the proof is that you find them as members of the Royal Consultative Council for Saharan Affairs, the crème of the Sahraoui tribes; you find also human right activists and labor unions members. The proof is that Khalli Henna Ould Errachid, President of the Royal Consultative Council, has a wide experience and very well known. And since the time when Spain wanted to create a ghost state, Khalli Henna has known….
The Program Presenter: Thank you, your idea is understood. To come back to you, our dear guest, the lady from Spain asked the question about this transition from one colonizer to another one. It is known that you too used to live in Spain and that you even created a political party that called for independence and then you returned to Morocco and met the king. How do answer this lady?
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: First I would like you to grant me some time to clarify things.
The Program Presenter: Go ahead.
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: You have not let me finish my idea. The audience surely understand neither the beginning nor the end of this program. I will answer the lady, but first let me go back to what I was saying before concerning your question on Algeria. I said that attempts to solve this problem were always in progress between Morocco and Algeria. The meeting between the late King Hassan II and President Chadli Benjdid in 1983 began to yield solution signs. Afterwards there was the Algerian proposal presented to King Hassan II by the Algerian Foreign Minister at that time, Dr. El Ibrahimi, in 1985 suggesting self rule for the Sahara. However, that project did not succeed as it did not take into account the Moroccan principle of sovereignty. There was also the mediation undertaken by the late King Fahd Ibn Abdelaaziz in 1987 which led to King Hassan II’s visit to Algiers in 1988, when it was agreed to leave aside the Saharan issue and to concentrate on building the Arab Maghreb, a thing which was achieved in February 1989 in Marrakech. So the attempts to solve this problem made sometimes by Morocco, sometimes by Algeria, have never come to an end even during the worst moments in the two countries’ relationship. The same thing is true for….
The Program Presenter: Of course Mr. Khalli Henna…
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: Excuse me…
The Program Presenter: Please, let us move on with this dialogue, because if we open these historical chapters, we will never finish.
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: Good
The Program Presenter: I would like you to answer the audience. And I don’t want for example to ask you the question that the Moroccan Algerian difference. Algeria talks about a decolonization process; while Morocco puts forward the question of legitimacy and rights.
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: But,you have asked me …
The Program Presenter: Please answer the questions
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: Please, let me…
The Program Presenter: Go ahead
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: Give me some time to clarify my ideas, because if you keep interrupting me, this will create confusion and will prevent the audience from understanding my point; and the discussion will not be conducted properly.
The Program Presenter: Go ahead
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: You asked me about Algeria. I said the negotiation process was not over when the late President, Boudiaf, came to power. He wanted to find a final and lasting solution to the Sahara question. So the attempts to find a solution between us and Algeria did not stop. This issue is both a direct and an indirect one. Basically, the Sahara question is an internal problem affected by external factors, such as the Moroccan-Algerian border dispute, the cold war, and African conflicts. All of these factors have worsened the difference and given it dimensions other than its natural ones.
So, there were attempts on the part of both Morocco and Algeria, as well as attempts with the
Polisario, whereby they met with the late King Hassan II twice in 1996. Unfortunately, they did not succeed to seize the golden opportunity at that time during the reigning atmosphere back then between Algeria and Morocco during…
The Program Presenter: The Arab Maghreb Union
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: During the Arab Maghreb Union. Today, in the new process, we want, quite naturally, to go back to the past; we do not want this new attempt to fail like all the other attempts before it. Rather, we want it to succeed for the benefit of everyone. We want to leave aside the thorny questions to which we could not find any answer in the past, that is to say the question of eternal principles, false approaches and erroneous premises. If we leave these things aside, we will definitely arrive at the much-hoped for solution, the solution we are negotiating about and which Morocco was the first to put on the table.
The Program Presenter: Let us go back to…
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: Regarding the lady’s question, you like her. In fact, this lady’s ideas are mixed up. She asks why I am a Sahraoui who defends Morocco. I do so because I defend truth, I defend history, I defend blood ties, kinship and historical relationships which link the Sahara people to Morocco across history. More than that, Sahraoui people ruled Morocco, through the Almoravids, for one century; the Sahraouis played different, successive roles over a long period.
The Program Presenter: You…
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: I reject off hand her idea that the Sahara is colonized by Morocco. I lived under Spanish colonization and she does not know what colonization is like. The question of the Sahara, and this is one of the falsehoods that have led to a lot of misunderstanding between Algeria and Morocco and that have pushed the Polisario front to harbor many fallacies, is definitely not a question of decolonization. There is presently no document at the United Nations, or the Arab League, or the Islamic Conference or with the Europeans that point to the fact that the present question is one of decolonization. The truth is that it is a political conflict that needs to be solved. Hence, decolonization had existed even before the existence of the Polisario as an organization. The question of decolonization existed between Spain and Morocco. And the Sahara problem was not the only one that existed between Morocco and Spain. There were the questions of Tan Tan, Tarfaya, Sidi Ifni, Tangier, and the North of Morocco, as Spain and France were the two countries that colonized Morocco. Morocco was one of the rare African countries that were victims of double colonization by two powerful European countries; that is why he had to fight to gain its independence from France, and he had to fight to gain its independence progressively and over numerous different stages from Spain and then the Sahara question is one such fight.
The Program Presenter: Mr. Khalli Henna, Even some…
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: Excuse me a moment please, I would like to tell the lady, my sister, if she is from the Sahara, she is my sister and I greet her warmly and I tell her, sister, if you saw today Laayoune, Dakhla, Boujdour and Smara, you would not say that Morocco colonizes the Sahara, you would not say that the Sahara of today is the same one that existed during Spanish presence. Morocco has regained part of its territory and has deployed great efforts to make its sons and inhabitants happy and to bring joy into their hearts, a joy they did not live under Spanish occupation, the real occupation that lasted from 1884 to 1975.
The Program Presenter: Mr. Khalli Henna Ould Errachid, I would like to ask questions to continue with our interview. Some people accuse you of not having played your role to have an impact on the Polisario members and to make these negotiations succeed.
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: Who says so?
The Program Presenter: Some observers, some Moroccans see that you have not exercised your entire influence on the Polisario front to achieve success in these negotiations.
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: The success of negotiations is the responsibility all the parties concerned, Morocco, the Polisario and Algeria. I
Will tell what, in my opinion, each side should do to make these negotiations succeed. First of all, Morocco has had the necessary courage and the appropriate historical decision to put a solution on the table, a solution that is simply a theoretical one that cannot be implemented. Morocco had put forward, through the Royal Consultative Council for Saharan Affairs, which I am honored to presides, a solution which had been studied, planned, organized and presented to His Majesty the King who approved it. This solution is honorable to all parties concerned.
The Program Presenter: If, during the negotiations, the Polisario rejects it, what will Morocco’s response be in this case?
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: Let me say something before the Polisario rejects it. Why has Morocco presented this self rule solution?
considering that it is a difficult one and that it is also a difficult and courageous bet. Morocco has presented this solution out of consideration for all parties and out of consideration for the claims of the Polisario as part of the Sahraouis.
The Polisario are our brothers and relatives. They are part of us, and we are part of them. This is what Algeria always used to claim. What the international community claims is a consensual political solution that is satisfactory to all parties. Why is Morocco presenting this solution now? It is, brother, because all previous solutions had failed: The referendum based on identity determination can in no way be implemented. The attempts that took place, like the one of 1985, and which was designed to affect the eternal principles governing Moroccan sovereignty, cannot be implemented. So, let me tell you, we are in front of the Polisario dilemma, the Algerian dilemma and the world community dilemma. What is then the solution to the present crisis? Are we going back to the previous situation that we were in before? Or are we going to remain enclosed in a vicious circle of impossible claims from which there will be no exit? Or are we all going to be realistic politicians and make concessions as to the ceiling of our claims. Morocco has made great concessions: it has made compromises on the Sahara government, the parliament, the supreme court, and on economic matters. It has made concessions on everything that would please the Sahraouis in terms of historical, political, economic and social claims. Morocco, under the leadership of His Majesty King Mohamed VI, has made all of these concessions in good faith because it really wants to see this problem solved. However, what I want to know, as a Sahraoui, one who has lived this problem since its beginning, and I know the mistakes committed by the Polisario in the past, is why does not the Polisario engage in serious negotiations to find a solution. Why does the Polisario stick to matters that it knows from experience that they have failed? It has tried such option for 32 years and found that they lead only to failure; War failed…
The Program Presenter: Mr. Khalli Henne, sir…
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: And it brought only disaster to the region, yes…
The Program Presenter: With your permission, we will receive some calls and we will get back to you.
Moulay Ahmed from Morocco, Good evening, Go ahead if you please.
Moulay Ahmed: My name is Moulay Ahmed Touhali from Laayoune, the largest city in the Sahara.
The Program Presenter: Welcome
Moulay Ahmed: First of all, I would like to thank you for this program that sheds light on this region that has undergone a lot
Of suffering, that is to say the problems that have befallen the Sahraoui people. As a Sahraoui, confirmed by the identity determination officials who supervised the census concerning the referendum’s electoral lists, a referendum that I believe cannot be implemented, I see that the only solution for the Sahara issue is self rule offered by Morocco to its Saharan province. This self rule, gentleman, is considered as real self determination, because it will allow the Sahara inhabitants to manage freely their own affairs and riches. That is why I see that it is time to close this file on the basis of the Moroccan proposal and to stop looking for inappropriate solutions that will throw everyone in uncertain tunnels that can only lead to a waste of time.
The Program Presenter: Thank you Moulay Ahmed
Moulay Ahmed: I thank Mr. Khalli Henna Ould Errachid, who rightfully represents us and defends us in international venues.
The Program Presenter: Thank you, we have got your message.
Mrs. Allal from Spain, Good evening, go ahead if you please, sister Allal
Mrs. Allal: Good evening
The Program Presenter: Good evening, go ahead, if you please.
Mrs. Allal: First of all, I would like to thank Al Jazeera for having given me this opportunity. I would like to ask Mr. Khalli Henna Ould Errachid a question and I would like to have a truthful answer before the whole world. You, the Moroccans, always say that your brothers, the Sahraouis, want to join Morocco, but they are sequestered by their leadership and Algeria. Let us see before the whole world if you are sincere; let us adopt the solution presented by the Sahraouis in the negotiations, namely the referendum for the region, so that you can prove to the whole world if the Sahraouis really want to join the Kingdom of Morocco or prefer to continue living in the camps under harsh natural conditions or prefer living under Moroccan rule. This is all I have to say.
The Program Presenter: Thank you, Mrs. Allal
Mr. Boujemaa from Morocco, Good evening Mr. Boujemaa
The Program Presenter: Go ahead if you please, Mr. Boujemaa
Mr. Boujemaa: First of all, Good evening, I would like to say something to the international public at large. The question is whether Morocco really wants a real solution to the Sahara question. I, personally, met Mr. Khalli Henna Ould Errachid in the city of Guoulmim in the presence of all theTegna tribes, civil society and political parties. I then presented him with a new idea, in addition to the current ideas that talk about self rules in the world as they are presented by Rotla and the German Offi Hawter. It was a new idea and he made a promise in front of all the Tegna tribes that he would give me a chance to talk about this idea both inside and outside Morocco. Unfortunately, he has not kept his promise. I, therefore, hold him responsible and accuse him of conspiring against the Sahraoui cause. And this is high treason against the Moroccan people, the Maghrebi people and the international community. We went before the whole world and told him that we were ready to consider a new project that leads to a solution that would be honorable for all parties. But he has not done anything; therefore…
The Program Presenter: Thank you Mr. Boujemaa.
Jamal Saidi from Cyprus, good evening,
Jamal Saidi: Good evening,
The Program Presenter: Good evening, go ahead with your question,
Jamal Saidi: Morocco has made enough concessions. However, we have not seen any concessions on the part of the Polisario front whose attitude has never changed and has never made any breakthrough. I believe that the Polisario leadership see that things should be either black or white; that is to say they categorically don’t believe in a middle-way solution. In the past, Moroco used to call for complete integration. Now, however, Morocco accepts enlarged self rule as it is the case in Spain and other European countries.
A question to the honorable guest: In the event the negotiations fail, will Morocco grant the citizens self rule even if it is not accepted by the Polisario front? Thank you.
The Program Presenter: Thank you, sir. Mr. Khalli Henna, you have heard the questions on identity determination. How have you dealt with this issue, and whatever has happened to it?
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: The subject of identity determination and the referendum based on identity determination. Identity determination leads to internal discord. Whoever calls for identity determination calls for permanent internal discord between tribes, districts and countries. Because as the lady who asked the question knows, the Sahraouis are not found only in Morocco. They are found in Algeria, with Algerian nationality, but they belong to our tribes and they are our relatives and cousins. The same thing is true in Mauritania and Mali. To hold Identity determination for a region whose borders were traced by colonizers is like calling for permanent and endless discord. The African continent, brother, is rife with discords between tribes. Take any region in Africa and you will find that disputes are no longer ideological disputes. Rather, they are all tribal ones: in central Africa, in the south, in the east and in the west. So, we need to avoid this solution. Referendum cannot be implemented technically, politically and legally. That is why we need to adopt realistic, possible and practical solutions that can be implemented. What is required of these solutions is that they be satisfactory to all parties, to the Sahraouis first because they constitute the basis of the dispute. We believe that the self rule project submitted by Morocco adequately meets the needs of the Sahraouis. The Polisario, then, needs to negotiate to improve it. It is incumbent upon the Polisarion front to do so. It also meets the needs of Algeria because it is for it a way out of its historical responsibility as it requires itself. And this is what the world community seeks to achieve as they have indicated so in the last 1754 decision by asking the parties to find the much hoped for political solution.
The Program Presenter: Mr. Boujemaa accuses you of betraying the cause and says that he has a project but has not had the opportunity to present it; I am not sure whether he has ever met you.
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: He said that I have betrayed the project he had presented. I don’t remember this project. Probably when I next visit Goulmime, God willing, I will ask to study it, God willing.
The Program Presenter: The last question from Morocco also: In the e vent of failure of negotiation, will Morocco grant the Sahraouis self rule?
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: No, Look, we come to the negotiations in good faith and we never presume that they will fail, nor do we wish for them to fail. So, we cannot pass a prior judgment. In the experience of the two rounds, we noticed that the Polisario still needs some time to organize its business as to the necessity to study and examine 32 years of attempts that have not yielded any result. They need to understand that there is no need for our brothers to remain in the Tindouf camps any longer; they also need to understand that this is a historical, golden opportunity that they must seize to reach a satisfactory and honorable solution. Definitely, self rule does not humiliate the Polisario or the Polisario leaders or Algeria. It is an honorable solution. Naturally, this is life and this is god’s will in His creation. In private life, in public life and in mostly politics, one cannot achieve a hundred percent of one’s claims. This is no way possibel in any country in the world. We, therefore, believe that self rule is a leap forward to solve the Sahara problem.
The Program Presenter: Mr. Ould Errachid, to put the audience in the picture of negotiations: Algeria and Mauritania were present there as observers. What was their presence like? Did you notice, you the Moroccan delegation, that the Sahraoui delegation used to consult with anyone during the negotiations? What role did the Mauritanian delegation play in this regard?
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: Algeria, more particularly, is concerned more than Mauritania because they host and sponsor the Polisario. Let us speak frankly; the Polisario is based on Algerian land and has strong ties with Algeria and the latter defends the cause of the Polisario. So, Algeria is concerned more than Mauritania by this issue.
The Program Presenter: Did you notice any clear intervention or influence on the part of the observing Algerian delegation on the negotiating Sahraoui team?
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: No, let me clarify this point. Algeria used to say that they are not concerned directly with the Sahara conflict. Rather, they said that their presence is justified by the fact that they are a neighboring country that hosts the camps of the Polisario front and so on and so forth. They, then, hold on to what they have been preaching, that is to say that Morocco and the Polisarion should negotiate directly and talk about settling the dispute and solving the problem. So, Algeria has achieved what it always wanted. However, the United Nations and the world community ask Algeria to exert its influence on their allies in the Polisario front to be realistic in their claims and to reach an acceptable agreement with the Kingdom of Morocco on the question of self rule. This degree of positive Algerian intervention has not been reached yet in the first two rounds. I hope that in the next round, and incidentally its time and place have not been determined yet, contrary to what the Polisario indicated when they said that the next round would take place in Europe. The parties concerned will later discuss the venue and the date.
The Program Presenter: The Moroccan Minister of the Interior said that the venue is contingent upon the agenda of the meeting. We come back to you and to other questions. But first allow me to get these calls
Khadija from Morocco. Good evening, sister Khadija
Khadija: Good evening
The Program Presenter: Go ahead with your question
Khadija: Peace be upon you
The Program Presenter: peace be upon you too; go ahead, sister.
Khadija: Greetings to our distinguished guest, Mr. Khalli Henna Ould Errachid. I would like to say that it is a great honor for us that he speaks about a position that all Sahraoui young people agree upon, namely self rule which we, young people, consider as the only solution that will work within the framework of the Algerian Moroccan confrontation over the Moroccan Sahara issue. We ask Mr. Khalli Henna to explain to us what young people will get from this self rule.
The Program Presenter: Thank you sister Khadija.
Ould Laarbi from Spain, good evening.
Ould Laarbi: Thank you. (Bad connection, hardly heard),
The Program Presenter: Thank you very much; we apologize for the quality of the sound that comes out unclear from its source.
The Program Presenter: Sister Khadija wonders what will the youth get out of self rule if it is adopted by both parties-unemployment, the job market, etc, that is to say young people’s preoccupations.
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: This is a good question. First of all, the region, as everybody knows, has known great progress over the past 30 years. Of course with self rule the economic, social and political situation will change, especially that which concerns young people. The Royal Consultative Council held a special session last May devoted to youths’ issues and problems. However, naturally, all Sahraoui youths, in the camps and overseas, are concerned by self rule, because self rule will change the characteristics of the Sahara, politically, economically, socially and culturally. It will put the Sahraoui at the forefront of the elements that make up our country as a developed thriving region. We have high hopes and our hopes are pinned on the fact that no Sahraoui will ever think of sabotaging this historical project which all Sahraouis should rally themselves around. On this occasion, I say that no party, be it the Polisario, or anyone who has rejected this solution for many reasons, can be allowed to cause this project to fail, because this project is that of the Moroccan nation, the King, and the whole region which has undergone a lot of suffering and pain for many years, especially those among our brothers, sisters and children unlawfully rotting in camps in inhuman conditions, for no political, strategic or negotiating reasons. For these reasons we say that they should go to their own homes and families.
The Program Presenter: Mr. Khalli Henna Ould Errachid, we have two minutes left in the program and I, in turn, would like to ask you a question: Do you believe that the United Nations will continue sponsoring the negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario front.
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: If I had my wish, this will be a long process, because negotiation is what is required of us, of all the parties. And all the parties have expressed their will to negotiate, but to negotiate to arrive at a solution and not to disagree on the objectives. We will continue negotiating; we want negotiations and so do the Polisario front, Algeria and the United Nations, whose main responsibility is to promote peace and to find solution to all conflicts around the world. Negotiations, however, need to lead to a solution, especially in the Arab Maghreb region. We are lagging way behind in building the Arab Maghreb; we are much further behind than other regions. There is no reason not to take a decision, neither for the Polisario leaders, nor for Algeria which has found what it has always sought, nor for the United Nations to bring lasting peace to the region by the adoption of the self rule project that will be satisfactory to everybody. Then and only then will we go into are of development and essential responsibility to bring happiness to our people and to our families.
The Program Presenter: Thank you Mr. Khalli Henna Ould Errachid, member of the delegation that was negotiating in USA with the Polisario front. Thank you all who have contributed to this discussion. Thank you, our audience for your attention. Good bye