The world lost a great Muslim champion for democracy, human rights and the rule of law, with the untimely death of Mohamed Abdelaziz of Western Sahara on May 31st of this year. As the democratically elected President of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), Abdelaziz labored his entire life to see justice prevail for the people of Western Sahara, the only colony in Africa yet to be decolonized.
Abdelaziz led the POLISARIO, an organization he helped found initially to liberate Western Sahara from Spain, and the SADR, the Republic established by the Sahrawis. He first sought peaceful resolution to the conflict over Western Sahara through the International Court of Justice in1974. But, the brutal invasion of his homeland by Morocco in 1975 led to armed conflict until the United Nations brokered a cease fire in 1991 with the promise that the people of Western Sahara would have a referendum on self-determination. Twenty five years later that referendum still has not occurred.