Unsurprisingly, the new appointments were simply a reshuffling of the old guard — Abdelaziz periodically shifts Polisario leaders around to various positions of responsibility, all while maintaining the same cadre of leadership.
So how did it work with this latest round? I took a look at the Polisario’s own organizational charts to find out where these “newest” appointments came from in this so-called democracy.
- Salem Lebsir, head of the Political Organization Secretariat of the Polisario Front? Former President of the Sahrawi Red Crescent and Wali of Dakhla camp.
- Bashir Mustafa Sayed, Minister of state and advisor to Abdelaziz? Former Minister of Interior and Minister of Teaching.
The entrenchment of unelected Polisario officials becomes even clearer when you consider positions that weren’t newly appointed in this latest round.
- The Prime Minister, Abdelakader Taleb Omar, has been in power since 2003 and was reappointed in 2012.
- Hamada Selam Daf, Minister of Justice and Religious Affairs, has held the post since 2003.
- Mohamed Lamine Bouhali, Minister of Defense, has held the post since at least 1999 (according to the earliest Polisario “org chart” available).
- Ahmed El Boukhari has been representative of the Polisario at the UN since at least 1999.
- Mohammed Khaddad has served as coordinator with MINRUSO since at least 1999.
And just last week, Khatri Aduh, was “re-elected” President of the National Council, the Polisario’s “legislative branch.” Aduh previously served as Polisario Front Representative to the EU and Director of “Political Orientation.”
What does this all tell us? The Polisario is NOT a democracy and it does NOT represent anyone or anything but its own interest. Rather, it is a movement whose leaders exploit the current situation to consolidate their power at the expense of the Sahrawi people.
Jordan Paul is the Executive Director of the Moroccan American Center for Policy.