According to information published by Spanish news website lainformacion.com, the late Polisario leader Mohamed Abdelaziz, revealed to one of his close friends that the lung cancer he battled for years led him to believe that his old convictions “had become obsolete over time.”
Abdelaziz died on Tuesday, May 30 in a hospital in the United States after a long battle with cancer. The Moroccan-born leader of the Polisario separatist movement will be remembered by generations to come as the Moroccan who wanted to establish an independent state in southern Morocco.
Abdelaziz was born in Morocco and studied in Moroccan universities. He was the son of a former member of the Moroccan army.
According to the same source, Abdelaziz allegedly “regretted” his alliance with Algeria against Morocco and expressed his desire to be buried in Bir Lahlou. Located on the east side of the berm, this territory, which was left as buffer zone with the Polisario, is considered by the separatist movement to be part of its “liberated territory.”
Abdelaziz was born in Kasbat Tadla, outside of Marrakech, along with many of his siblings. He studied in Agadir, then in Rabat, like several other founding members of the Polisario.
His father, Khalili Ben Mohamed Al-Bachir Rguibi was born in 1912 and served as a member of the Moroccan Liberation Army, which was formed following Morocco’s independence in order to fight Spanish colonialism in southern Morocco. He later joined the Moroccan Armed Forces until he retired in 1976.
In a video published on YouTube, Abdelaziz’s father said that he had not seen his son since 1975. The former member of the Moroccan army also disowned his son due to his involvement with the Polisario.
Abdelaziz was elected leader of the Polisario in August 1976 when he succeeded the Polisario’s founder and first Secretary General, El Ouali Mustapha Sayed. While Algerians claim that Sayed was killed on the battlefield while fighting against Mauritania in June 1976, some former Polisario members who left the organization claim that he was killed by the Algerians as soon as they learned of his intention to negotiate with Morocco and put an end to the conflict.
Upon his election as leader of the Polisario, Abdelaziz led a guerrilla war against Morocco from 1976 to 1991, when the United Nations brokered a ceasefire.
Though an early proposed solution to the conflict, a referendum, has never come to pass due to disagreements between Morocco and the Polisario over voter eligibility, Abdelaziz clung to the proposal, calling for the establishment of an independent state in the Sahara.
Although in recent years some protestors in the Tindouf camps have called on Polisario leadership to rethink its handling of the conflict with Morocco, Abdelaziz enjoyed the full and unconditional backing of the Algerians until his death.