Following a long illness President Mohamed Abdelaziz died on 31 May 2016.
A period of 40 days’ mourning has been announced, at the end of which a new president will be elected by an extraordinary general meeting of the Polisario Front. In the meanwhile, the speaker of the Saharawi National Council (Parliament), Khatri Addouh, will act as interim leader of the Polisario Front.
This is the end of an era and could be a turning point, but for now we simply assess the enormous contribution made by Mohamed Abdelaziz in the course of the past 40 years. As a young man….(cont.)
growing up in Smara, Western Sahara when it was Spanish Sahara, he became interested in the growing movement towards independence from the Spanish colonizer. First Bassiri’s nationalist movement attracted his attention, but in 1970, following the Zemla uprising, Bassiri disappeared. Later, in May 1973, Abdelaziz was a founding member of the Polisario Front. When its charismatic leader, El Ouali Mustafa Sayeed, was killed in action in Mauritania in 1976, Mohamed Abdelaziz was elected by the Polisario Congress to be the new leader. He has filled the role of Secretary General of the Polisario Front and President of the Saharawi Republic taking part in framing the constitution adopted at the Third Congress in August 1976. Thus he moved from being a soldier to a politician, but the respect accorded to him as a military man helped him to hold all the different sectors of the population together.
The President of the Defense Forum Foundation which campaigns for Western Sahara in the USA, Suzanne Scholte, circulated her nomination of Mohamed Abdelaziz for the Nobel Peace Prize.