Mohamed Abdelaziz./ Photo: CEAS Sahara
The Diplomat. 01/06/2016
Mohamed Abdelaziz, secretary general of the Polisario Front and president of the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), died of lung cancer yesterday at the age of 69.
His death was announced by the Polisario Front through its television channel, SADR TV, and through the Algerian press agency APS. In Algeria, President Abdelaziz Buteflika, his big international ally, has decreed eight days of mourning.
For its part, the Spanish Government expressed its sorrow for the death of Abdelaziz in a statement and remembered “the historical and current ties with the Saharan people”. Besides, it reiterated that Spain “defends a political, fair, lasting and mutually acceptable solution that includes the free determination of the people of the Western Sahara within the framework of the provisions in accordance with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations”.
Born in 1947 within the Reguibi, one of the three big Saharan tribes, and son of a former non-commissioned officer of the Moroccan Royal Army, Mohamed Abdelaziz joined, halfway through the sixties, the first Saharan pro-independence circles that frequented Moroccan universities. After his first political activities, he went into hiding along with Mustafa Sayed el Uali, with whom he participated in 1973 in the foundation of the Polisario Front.
Founder and secretary general of the Polisario since 1976, he was elected president of the SADR in 1982
In 1976, he was appointed secretary general of the Polisario, after the death of Mustafa Sayed El Uali, and, in 1982, he was elected president of the SADR. In February, Mohamed Abdelaziz seemed to be very weak during his meeting with the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, at the refugee camp of Tindouf. Jatri Adduh, president of the National Council of the Polisario, will replace him temporarily for a maximum period of 40 days, waiting for another secretary general to be appointed.