Khalihenna: the search for impossible solution in the Sahara prolongs the suffering of the majority of Sahrawis
The recent establishment of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs is a step designed mainly to handle economic affairs and preserve Sahrawi cultural identity.
The Council’s Head considers Spain outside this “Sahrawi-Sahrawi” problem
We will talk with Mr. Khalihenna which is in Spain.
Host: Good morning, what is the aim behind the establishement of this Royal Council now?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: The Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs was founded by His Majesty the King in order to put an end to the Sahara issue which has lasted for so long and caused so much suffering to the inhabitants of the region.
It aims also to grant autonomy to the inhabitants for their on economic and social development and we are mandated to give the start of the project.
For this reason, we came to visit the Canary Islands to explain the need to find a definitive solution to the Sahara issue to the authorities and public opinion of these islands. We are also looking for stability, development and public interest to this important region for us and you. We believe that the only solution possible and the most appropriate option to end this conflict is the
democratic system of self-government. Spain is an alive and successful model for us is as it is a neighbor and especially the Canary Islands.
Question: Will the granting of such a system be more democratic than a referendum in the region as was scheduled by the United Nations?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: referendum failed, the United Nations has failed to organize it, both politically and technically, because the Saharan tribes live in four countries, namely Algeria, Mauritania, Mali, and Morocco, and this may require changing the map of these countries. This is impossible, and we can not wait forever and stay where we are with our brothers in the camps. We must find an honorable solution and this solution is self-government.
This solution responds to the historic of Saharans ie economic and political management of the region under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Morocco and this solution will enable the inhabitants to handle their own affairs freely and democratically.
Question: What are the powers granted to Sahrawis under autonomy?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: All the powers established by international standards, that will enable Sahrawis manage the region and exploit its natural and economic resources and preserve Sahrawi identity which is perhaps the source problem.
It is, in my view, an international practice. We believe that Spain is a perfect model for this system. Its success is recognized by the European Community, so we want to take this model especially in the Canary Islands.
Question: Will Saharan sources remain under Sahrawis control?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: Yes, of course, when we talk about political rights, we are talking about economic rights, according to which Sahrawis will have the right to handle their political and economic rights freely including their economic, mineral resources and tourism assets.
Autonomy is not a political maneuver by Morocco. The King of Morocco took a bold decision to change strategic administrative structures to be able to resolve this longstanding problem.
I think that this is a historic opportunity for Sahrawis to accept this solution which is in line with the historical relations with Morocco and religious links with its monarchs. It is time for Sahrawis to get political and economic identity within the Kingdom. I think that this suits the political situation of the Sahara.
Question: What is the role that can be played by Spain and Canary Islands in the new peace scheme?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: This new route concerns Spain, we said it in our visit to Madrid. Spain is a friend and neighbor of Morocco, we share many links with the Canary Islands in particular.
Canary Islands is direct neighbour of the Sahara and will be the closest neighbor of the autonomous Sahara. We share historical, economic, emotional and even fraternal relationship with this neighbour who can help us, and can be a key partner after the application of autonomy. We also share economic, political and security interests. That is why we consider that the Canary Islands are our fisrt partner in the region.
Question: Have you noticed some sympathy with the separatist thesis in the Canary Islands that have historic compassion with Polisario Front?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: Yes, I understand that, I know that they empathize with Sahrawis. But that sympathy should cover all Sahrawis not only Polisario because they are representing a minority in the camps. The Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs represents the majority. The Majority of those who are in the Sahara regions.
The search for impossible solution prolongs the suffering and pain for the majority of the Saharans. Therefore, we have to look for a solution that avoids us family separation.
Sahrawis should focus on economic and social development of their region in security peace and stability; they should invest in relations and common interests between us and our brothers in the Canary Islands.
Host: We hope this problem will be settled.
Thank you very much Sir, for talking to us this morning
(News on Western Sahara issue / Corcas)