W. Sahara independence movement elects new leader

11.07.2016

Western Sahara independence movement Polisario Front elected a founding member of the group as its new leader Saturday, Algeria's APS news agency said, after its head of 40 years died in late May.

Brahim Ghali – who represented the Algeria-backed movement in Madrid then in Algiers – is to succeed Mohamed Abdelaziz, who spent decades fighting Morocco for the independence of the territory. The 67-year-old – the sole candidate in the vote – was elected by an "overwhelming majority" to become Polisario secretary general and president of the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arabic Democratic Republic, APS said.

Around 2,300 delegates elected Ghali after they gathered for an extraordinary conference in the Sahrawi refugee camp of Dakhla near Tindouf, 1,800 kilometres (1,120 miles) southwest of the Algerian capital Algiers, it said.

Abdelaziz had led the Polisario since 1976, three years after the group was founded to struggle for independence for the territory, which Morocco annexed in 1975.

Local Sahrawi people are campaigning for the right to self-determination, but Morocco considers the territory to be part of the kingdom and insists its sovereignty cannot be challenged. The president of the Sahrawi National Council, Khatri Addouh, had led the group in the interim after Abdelaziz's death.    (AFP)

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