WESTERN SAHARA: Women Refugees Denounce Dicatorship; Corruption at Camps

Monday, July 25, 2011
Northern Africa
Western Sahara
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Human Rights

Association for the development of Saharawi Women, led by Salma Buha Mint Bubacar Lecuara, president of the association and Fatma Ahmed Essbiti, its secretary, held a conference on july 21, 2011 at The Emperor hotel in Madrid. Ana Camacho a senior journalist with El País intervened in support of the two speakers. Also attended the ceremony Mohamed Salem jaddou a member of the association.

These women, echoing the social demands of the Sahrawis confined in Tindouf described the Polisario leadership as as corrupt and dictatorial. President Bubacar Salam buha mint Bubacar said the main objective of the creation of this non-governmental association is to protect the Saharawi women's rights and denounce the lack of democracy of the Polisario. In their speeches, the president and the secretary highlighted the desire for change that the oppressed Saharawi youth living in camps in Tindouf hope for.

Opposition to the Polisario Front was practically nonexistent until now. But now many dissident voices can be heard and many Sahrawis living inside or outside the camps on Algerian territory are asking for more democracy and dare to criticize the authorities, "autocratic and dictatorial polisario mandated by the corrupt president-for-life Abdelaziz el Marrakchi."

Fatma Ahmed Essbiti denounced the lack of connection between the Saharawi people and the leadership of the Polisario Front that works "just for their own interests, with no concern for people living under poverty and aid dependency of the Spanish and other donors."

She also announced that this hunger for change claimed by the Saharawi youth "will be open to discussion at the next congress of the Polisario, to be held in December 2011" she said.

Coinciding with the eighth round of talks and negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario under the auspices of the UN in New York, which ended without significant progress, the president of the Association wanted to make clear that " Sahrawi women do not recognize the credibility or the representativeness of the leaders of the Polisario front negotiating a solution to the conflict with Morocco. " "It is necessary, she added, a change in the crew, the faces must be renewed and insisted at the same time that she wondered, with some hope why a woman cannot take control of the Polisario Front."

The two speakers wanted to point out that political struggle is not the only claim of the Saharawi people, it should establish and promote human rights in Sahrawi society, promoting gender equality, and fighting against old traditions that limit the presence of women in the political social and cultural fields.