[109] In more official ways, women were consistently part of the Polisario Front, which in 1994 created the National Union of Sahrawi Women (NUSW). According to a NATO delegation, MINURSO election observers stated in 1999, as the deadlock continued, that "if the number of voters does not rise significantly the odds were slightly on the SADR side". Formally, Morocco is administered by a bicameral parliament under a constitutional monarchy. Las pretensiones de Marruecos sobre los territorios españoles en el norte de África (1956–2002)", "United Nations General Assembly Resolution 34/37, The Question of Western Sahara", "Arab League Withdraws Inaccurate Moroccan maps", "Report of the Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara (paragraph 37, p. 10)", "Western Sahara not part of EFTA-Morocco free trade agreement – wsrw.org", "International law allows the recognition of Western Sahara – Stockholm Center for International Law and Justice", "Algeria Claims Spanish Sahara Is Being Invaded", "Western Sahara's Struggle for Freedom Cut Off By a Wall", "Is One of Africa's Oldest Conflicts Finally Nearing Its End? Sometimes children return to the same Spanish household year after year while they are still eligible, and forge strong relationships with their host families. By "eligible voter" the UN referred to any Sahrawi over 18 years of age that was part of the Spanish census or could prove their descent from someone who was. A former Spanish colony, it was annexed by Morocco in 1975. About 20% of the territory is controlled by the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, while the remaining 80% of the territory is occupied and administered by neighboring Morocco. Berber heritage is still evident from regional and place-name toponymy, as well as from tribal names. [94][95][96], After reasonably exploitable oil fields were located in Mauritania, speculation intensified on the possibility of major oil resources being located off the coast of Western Sahara. The Moroccan and Mauritanian annexations were resisted by the Polisario Front, which had gained backing from Algeria. [10] Internationally, countries such as Russia have taken a generally ambiguous and neutral position on each side's claims, and have pressed both parties to agree on a peaceful resolution. In April 2007, the government of Morocco suggested that a self-governing entity, through the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs (CORCAS), should govern the territory with some degree of autonomy for Western Sahara. In 2005, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan reported increased military activity on both sides of the front and breaches of several cease-fire provisions against strengthening military fortifications. While the area can experience flash flooding in the spring, there are no permanent streams. [49] Both Morocco and the Polisario additionally accuse each other of violating the human rights of the populations under their control, in the Moroccan-controlled parts of Western Sahara and the Tindouf refugee camps in Algeria, respectively. According to Baker's draft, tens of thousands of post-annexation immigrants from Morocco proper (viewed by Polisario as settlers but by Morocco as legitimate inhabitants of the area) would be granted the vote in the Sahrawi independence referendum, and the ballot would be split three ways by the inclusion of an unspecified "autonomy", further undermining the independence camp. History of Ibn Khaldun Volume 6, pp80-90 by, Tomás Bárbulo, "La historia prohibida del Sáhara Español,", CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (, Jacob Mundy – Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Colgate Universit. Pro-independence Sahrawi sources, including the Polisario, have given these demonstrations the name "Independence Intifada", while most sources have tended to see the events as being of limited importance. However, the presence of land mines scattered throughout the territory by the Moroccan army makes it a dangerous way of life. The Bafour were later replaced or absorbed by Berber-speaking populations, which eventually merged in turn with the migrating Beni Ḥassān Arab tribes. For example, all drinking water for the city of Laayoune comes from desalinization facilities and costs 3 US dollars per cubic meter but is sold at the national price of 0.0275 US dollars; the difference is paid for by the government of Morocco. In August 2017, the UN chief appointed former German President Horst Köhler as his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara. As of July 2004, an estimated 267,405 people (excluding about 160,000 Moroccan military personnel) lived in the Moroccan-controlled parts of Western Sahara. It became a protectorate of Spain in the 19th century and was later claimed by Morocco, Mauritania, and local inhabitants. The festival provides entertainment and educational opportunities for Sahrawi refugees alongside cultural celebrations for visitors and spectators. Western Sahara was partitioned between Morocco and Mauritania in April 1976, with Morocco acquiring the northern two-thirds of the territory. The Polisario-controlled parts of Western Sahara are barren. Sayad's graffiti depicts aspects of Sahrawi culture and includes actual Sahrawi people as his subjects. Instead, the African Union participates with the United Nations mission, in order to maintain a ceasefire and reach a peace agreement between its two members. Until then, he said, the continent will not realise freedom. [6] A war erupted between those countries and a Sahrawi nationalist movement, the Polisario Front, which proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) with a government in exile in Tindouf, Algeria. ", Mohamed Elyazghi au Matin du Sahara: Solution politique au Sahara et refondation de nos relations avec Alger, "Amnesty International | Working to Protect Human Rights", "Western Sahara – Sahara Occidental – Akhbar Es-Sahra 2", Morocco's Memorandum to UN unveils Algiers' responsibility in Sahara conflict, political parties, "Morocco/Western Sahara: Broken Promises: The Equity and Reconciliation Commission and its Follow-up", "Morocco/Western Sahara: No more half measures: Addressing enforced disappearances in Morocco and Western Sahara", "Morocco/ Western Sahara: Further Information on UA 16/08 – Fear of unfair imprisonment/ Prisoners of conscience/ Health concern", "Morocco/ Western Sahara: Three years' imprisonment for putting a profile of Prince Moulay Rachid on Facebook", "Morocco/Western Sahara: New arrests and allegations of torture of Sahrawi human rights defenders", "Morocco/Western Sahara: Justice must begin with torture inquiries", "Morocco/Western Sahara: Torture of detainees must end", "Morocco/Western Sahara: Torture in the "anti-terrorism" campaign – the case of Témara detention centre", "Morocco/Western Sahara: Briefing to the Committee against torture (November 2003)", "Morocco/Western Sahara: reports of secret detention and torture on the rise", "Morocco and Western Sahara Human Rights", "Morocco/Western Sahara: Activists Need Fair Trial", "Western Sahara: Keeping It Secret – The United Nations Operation in the Western Sahara", "Swedish photographer expelled from Western Sahara a day after his arrest", "Journalist assaulted in the name of Moroccan control of Western Sahara", "Journalists working in Western Sahara face assaults, arrests and harassment", "Western Sahara, government corruption and palace life are all off-limits for the press", "Two Norwegian journalists threatened with expulsion", "Morocco puts US censorship busting site Anonymizer.com on its black list", "Appeal court upholds exorbitant damages award against Journal Hebdomadaire", "Report of the OHCHR to Western Sahara & the refugee camps in Tindouf 2006", "Human rights in Morocco & Western Sahara", "Morocco: Protect And Preserve Mass Grave Sites", "Western Sahara: UPDATE – Human rights defenders on hunger strike in protest at continued arbitrary detention", "Western Sahara: Severe beating of human rights defender, Mr Mohammed al-Tahleel by security forces", "Western Sahara: Torture and solitary confinement of human rights defender Mr Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza", "Western Sahara: Systematic repression of human rights defenders", Harcelement a l'encontre de Mme. The consulate will be in Laayoune, the largest city in Western Sahara, and the decision to open it came after a phone call between King Mohammed VI and … [40] The population is primarily made up of nomads who engage in herding camels back and forth between the Tindouf area and Mauritania. The number was highly politically significant due to the expected organization of a referendum on self-determination. [93] The cable concluded that the territory is unlikely ever to be of any economic benefit for Morocco, even if offshore oil fields were to be discovered and exploited. [11] In both instances, recognitions have, over the past two decades, been extended and withdrawn back and forth, depending on the development of relations with Morocco. ", "CountryWatch – Interesting Facts of the World", "Western Sahara: Baker Resigns As UN Mediator After Seven Years", "Times News – Bold, Authoritative, and True", "afrol News – No plans for a referendum in Western Sahara", Report of the Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara (13 April 2007)(ped). On 18 December 2019, the Comoros became the first nation to open a consulate in Laayoune in support of Moroccan claims to Western Sahara. Occupied by Spain until the late 20th century, Western Sahara has been on the United Nations list of non-self-governing territories since 1963 after a Moroccan demand. [citation needed] During the annual celebration of Muhammad's birthday, these lords paid their respects to the caliph to show loyalty to the Moroccan monarchy. President Buhari added that: “Nigeria remains committed to supporting the efforts of the AU and the UN towards finding a lasting solution to the Sahrawi problem.” The wide and active support by Nigerians for the liberation of Western Sahara is a warning to Morocco and its collaborators that they can no longer hold Africa down. A field assessment in the vicinity of Bir Lahlou, Tifariti and the berms revealed that the densest concentrations of mines are in front of the berms. The project was presented to the UN Security Council in mid-April 2007. [17][18] The Beni Hassan then were at constant war with the Lamtuna nomadic Berbers of the Sahara. [36], In 2016, the European Union (EU) declared that "Western Sahara is not part of Moroccan territory. The African Union however has not issued any formal statement about the border separating the sovereign territories of Morocco and the SADR in Western Sahara, until their conflict is resolved. Polisario accepted this voter list, as it had done with the previous list presented by the UN (both of them originally based on the Spanish census of 1974), but Morocco refused and, as rejected voter candidates began a mass-appeals procedure, insisted that each application be scrutinized individually. [97], In 2002, Hans Corell, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations and head of its Office of Legal Affairs, issued a legal opinion on the matter. The Saharan lords who were already in prominent positions, such as the members of Maa El Ainain family, provided a recommended list of candidates for new governors. His father, Hassan II of Morocco, initially supported the referendum idea in principle in 1982, and signed contracts with Polisario and the UN in 1991 and 1997. When Mauritania, under pressure from Polisario guerrillas, abandoned all claims to its portion in August 1979, Morocco moved to occupy that sector shortly thereafter and has since asserted administrative control over the whole territory. "[97] After pressures from corporate ethics-groups, Total S.A. pulled out in late 2004. Jacob Mundi. 2019. [41] In January 2020, The Gambia[42] and Guinea[43] opened consulates in Dakhla; meanwhile, Gabon opened a consulate general in Laayoune.[44]. It presents weapons, vehicles and uniforms, as well as abundant documentation history. Morocco and organizations such as France Libertés consider Algeria to be directly responsible for any crimes committed on its territory, and accuse the country of having been directly involved in such violations.[50]. [113] At this event, actors, directors, and film industry insiders from around the world join the Sahrawi people for a week-long festival of screenings, parallel activities, and concerts. [116], This article is about the geographical area. It also provided further detail on the referendum process in order to make it harder to stall or subvert. 15 DT-2004. Was Western Sahara (Rio de Oro and Sakiet El Hamra) at the time of colonization by Spain a territory belonging to no one (terra nullius) ?” If the answer to the first question is in the negative, “II. The official Moroccan government name for Western Sahara is the "Southern Provinces", consisting of the Río de Oro and Sagui… Algeria shares a 26-mile-long border with Western Sahara. In 1997, the Houston Agreement attempted to revive the proposal for a referendum but likewise has hitherto not had success. Mines were laid in zigzags up to one meter apart, and in some parts of the berms, there are three rows of mines. [92] Supporting life in a territory with scarce freshwater resources is extremely costly. [110] Furthermore, Sahrawi women were endowed with major responsibility for the camp during long periods of absence by the men of the camp due to war or trade. [citation needed] Certain powers, such as the capacity to appoint the government and to dissolve parliament, remain in the hands of the monarch. [99], In December 2014, it became known that Seabird Exploration operated controversial seismic surveys offshore Western Sahara, in violation of the 2002 Hans Corell legal opinion.[100]. Three Moroccan regions are within or partly within Western Sahara: Morocco controls territory to the west of the berm (border wall) while the Sahrawi Republic controls territory to the east (see map on right). These negotiations would define the exact limits of a Western Sahara autonomy under Moroccan rule but only after Morocco's "inalienable right" to the territory was recognized as a precondition to the talks. Chairmen/Presidents of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (1976–present), Coat of arms of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, List of colonial governors of Spanish Sahara, Prime Minister of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Western Sahara: War, Nationalism, and Conflict Irresolution, "Mort du chef du Polisario Mohamed Abdelaziz", "Death of Sahrawi President Mohamed Abdelaziz: Polisario Front declares 40-day mourning", Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs (CORCAS), https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=President_of_the_Sahrawi_Arab_Democratic_Republic&oldid=992103447, Government of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Presidents of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 3 December 2020, at 14:43. It was rejected by both sides, although it was initially derived from a Moroccan proposal. [35] The protest coincided with a fresh round of negotiations at the UN. The interior experiences extreme summer heat, with average highs reaching 43–45 °C (109–113 °F) in July and in August; during winter, days are still hot to very hot, with average highs from 25 to 30 °C (77 to 86 °F); however, in the northern part of the territory, the thermometer may drop below 0 °C (32 °F) at night and it can be freezing in December and in January, although this is rare. The UN uses a number of 90,000 "most vulnerable" refugees as basis for its food aid program. [80] The official Moroccan government name for Western Sahara is the "Southern Provinces", consisting of the Río de Oro and Saguia el-Hamra regions. Aside from its rich fishing waters and phosphate reserves, Western Sahara has few natural resources and lacks sufficient rainfall and freshwater resources for most agricultural activities. "[37] In March 2016, Morocco "expelled more than 70 U.N. civilian staffers with MINURSO" due to strained relations after Ban Ki-moon called Morocco's annexation of Western Sahara an "occupation".[38]. Sayad's work tells a consistent story, one that draws on his experience of protracted conflict and a life under Moroccan occupation. The Morocco-controlled parts of Western Sahara are divided into several provinces that are treated as integral parts of the kingdom. Elghalia Dijim et M. Duihi Hassan, "Détentions arbitraires – Poursuites judiciaires – Mauvais traitements", Nouvelle condamnation d'un militant sahraoui, "Après l'interdiction de trois hebdomadaires au Maroc, RSF et la FIDH dénoncent une décision inique et inacceptable", "EU ignores violations of human rights in Morocco", "Occupied Country, Displaced People [Updated]", "The Conditions of Detentions of the Moroccan POWs Detained in Tindouf (Algeria)", "The Polisario Front and the IRA – Two approaches to the process of negotiation", a Brussels-based commercial firm in the domain of counselling, Western Sahara and the United States' geographical imaginings, "Quatrème Commission: Le Maroc rest attaché au plan de règlement et a la tenue d'un référendum transparent au Sahara Occidental", "Report: Clan wars and unavoidable scission in Tindouf, defectors", "CIA: The World Factbook: 2006. [92] Fuel is sold at half the price, and basic goods are heavily subsidized;[92] businesses operating in the territory do not pay taxes. [80] When Mauritania, under pressure from Polisario guerrillas, abandoned all claims to its portion in August 1979, Morocco moved to occupy that sector shortly thereafter and has since asserted administrative control over the whole territory. Cyril Ramaphosa is no friend of Morocco in the Western Sahara dispute, but the South African president, contrary to his own agenda, found himself defending AU Decision 693. FIFA Rankings: Algeria keeps its 38th place worldwide, Belgium leading Morocco has been repeatedly criticized for its actions in Western Sahara by international human rights organizations including: The POLISARIO has received criticism from the French organization France Libertes on its treatment of Moroccan prisoners of war,[72] and on its general behaviour in the Tindouf refugee camps in reports by the Belgian commercial counseling society ESISC. Demonstrations and protests still occur, even after Morocco declared in February 2006 that it was contemplating a plan for devolving a limited variant of autonomy to the territory but still explicitly refused any referendum on independence. Open letter to President Ramaphosa, AU Chair African Union Summit ‘Silencing the Guns’ Member states and activists have used the summit to call on the AU to put more pressure on Morocco and the United Nations to revive the peace process and organise an independence referendum in Western Sahara. There are also berms in the Moroccan-controlled zone, around Dakhla and stretching from Boujdour, including Smara on the Moroccan border. [112] The NUSW was structured at the local, regional, and national levels and concentrated on four areas: the occupied territories and emigration, information and culture, political and professional development, and foreign affairs. [77], A number of former Polisario officials who have defected to Morocco accuse the organisation of abuse of human rights and sequestration of the population in Tindouf.[78][79]. Failed States. In late 2009, Moroccan troops performed military maneuvers near Umm Dreiga, in the exclusion zone, violating the cease-fire. The indigenous population of Western Sahara is usually known in Western media as Sahrawis, but they are also referred to in Morocco as "Southerners" or "Southern Berbers". Local religious custom (Urf) is, like other Saharan groups, heavily influenced by pre-Islamic Berber and African practices, and differs substantially from urban practices. The UN attempted to settle these disputes through a visiting mission in late 1975, as well as a verdict from the International Court of Justice (ICJ). As time went by, Spanish colonial rule began to unravel with the general wave of decolonization after World War II; former North African and sub-Saharan African possessions and protectorates gained independence from European powers. During his tenure Mr. Köhler convened two roundtable meetings on in December 2018 and March 2019 that created a new … Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. Spanish decolonization proceeded more slowly, but internal political and social pressures for it in mainland Spain built up towards the end of Francisco Franco's rule. Western Sahara was partitioned between Morocco and Mauritania in April 1976, with Morocco acquiring the northern two-thirds of the territory. Over roughly five centuries, through a complex process of acculturation and mixing seen elsewhere in the Maghreb and North Africa, some of the indigenous Berber tribes mixed with the Maqil Arab tribes and formed a culture unique to Morocco and Mauritania. Many of them have mixed Berber-Arab heritage, effectively continuations of the tribal groupings of Hassaniya-speaking and Zenaga-Berber speaking Moorish tribes extending south into Mauritania and north into Morocco as well as east into Algeria. Western Sahara, territory occupying an extensive desert Atlantic-coastal area of northwest Africa. [40] The Moroccan government views it as a no-man's land patrolled by UN troops. No major powers have expressed interest in forcing the issue, however, and Morocco has shown little interest in a real referendum. The population is estimated at just over 500,000,[3] of which nearly 40% live in Laayoune, the largest city in Western Sahara. The original clan-/tribe-based society underwent a massive social upheaval in 1975 when the war forced part of the population to settle in the refugee camps of Tindouf, Algeria, where they remain. [114] Art as embodied in film has been a strong and popular medium that Sahrawi youth have used to express themselves, and share their stories of conflict and exile. The major ethnic group of Western Sahara are the Sahrawis, a nomadic or Bedouin ethnic group speaking the Hassānīya dialect of Arabic, also spoken in much of Mauritania. On 6 November 1975 Morocco initiated the Green March into Western Sahara; 350,000 unarmed Moroccans converged on the city of Tarfaya in southern Morocco and waited for a signal from King Hassan II of Morocco to cross the border in a peaceful march. The Polisario Front has won formal recognition for SADR from 46 states, and was extended membership in the African Union. [92] All of this is done to keep the balance of Western Sahara's finances. It aims to raise awareness of the humanitarian crises in the refugee camps, and expose the Sahrawi people to this medium of art and expression.[114]. During the joint Moroccan–Mauritanian control of the area, the Mauritanian-controlled part, roughly corresponding to Saquia el-Hamra, was known as Tiris al-Gharbiyya. In 2002, the Moroccan king stated that the referendum idea was "out of date" since it "cannot be implemented";[28] Polisario retorted that that was only because of the King's refusal to allow it to take place. The Algerian government has consistently refused, claiming it has neither the will nor the right to negotiate on the behalf of the Polisario Front. The Western Sahara issue file has contributed to rising tensions between Algeria and Morocco. Several international human rights organizations expressed concern at what they termed abuse by Moroccan security forces, and a number of Sahrawi activists have been jailed. Among the responsibilities women had were setting up, repairing, and moving the tents of the camp, and participating in major tribal decisions. At the same time, Morocco and Mauritania, which had historical and competing claims of sovereignty over the territory, argued that it had been artificially separated from their territories by the European colonial powers. Landmine Action UK undertook preliminary survey work by visiting the Polisario-controlled area of Western Sahara in October 2005 and February–March 2006. [26] By 2001, the process had effectively stalemated and the UN Secretary-General asked the parties for the first time to explore other, third-way solutions. New York (United Nations), 05 December 2020 (SPS) - The incumbent President of the United Nations Security Council, Ambassador Jerry Matjila, called last Tuesday on the international community to recognize its failure in Western Sahara and the failure to fulfill its promises to the Saharawi people to reach a definitive solution through the celebration of a referendum on self-determination. As of 2017[update], no other member state of the United Nations has ever officially recognized Moroccan sovereignty over parts of Western Sahara. Instead, he proposes, through an appointed advisory body Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs (CORCAS), a self-governing Western Sahara as an autonomous community within Morocco. Guterres has not had a personal envoy in Western Sahara since former German president Horst Köhler left the post in May 2019 for health reasons. The number of countries expressing solidarity with Morocco’s to restore the free movement of people and goods at the border crossing point of Guerguarat between Morocco and Mauritania is increasing. [112], FiSahara International Film Festival is an annual film festival that takes place in one of the southwestern refugee camps in Algeria. Western Sahara (Arabic: الصحراء الغربية‎‎ aṣ-Ṣaḥrā' al-Gharbiyyah; Berber languages: Taneẓroft Tutrimt; Spanish: Sáhara Occidental) is a disputed territory on the northwest coast and in the Maghreb region of North and West Africa. [107] The program itself allows 7,000 to 10,000 Sahrawi children between the ages of 8 and 12 the opportunity to live in Spain for the summer outside of the refugee camps. The contemporary history of the territory has experienced long-term international presence and occupation that has deeply influenced the cultural practices of the people, such as languages spoken throughout the territory and its institutions. This again brought the process to a halt. There is a consensus among Sahrawi women that they have always enjoyed a large degree of freedom and influence within the Sahrawi community.[108]. The population of the territory thus possessed the right of self-determination. Protesters in Laayoune threw stones at police and set fire to tires and vehicles. [citation needed]. The Moroccan government heavily subsidizes the Saharan provinces under its control with cut-rate fuel and related subsidies, to appease nationalist dissent and attract immigrants from Sahrawis and other communities in Morocco proper.[39]. Every person present in the territory would be allowed to vote, regardless of birthplace and with no regard to the Spanish census. This museum is dedicated to the struggle for the independence of Western Saharan people. 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