TINDOUF, Algeria — The newly elected president of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), Brahim Ghali, is calling for a peaceful settlement of its decades-long quest for independence.
In a July 9 election in a Sahrawi refugee camp in Algeria, the indigenous people of the Moroccan-occupied territory in disputed Western Sahara chose Ghali as their president and secretary-general of their liberation movement, the Polisario Front. Ghali replaces longtime leader Mohamed Abdelaziz, who died May 31.
Ghali was one of the front’s founding members. He led the movement’s first military operation against Spain in 1973. In 1991, he began a new career as a diplomat, holding different posts, from Polisario’s representative in Spain to its ambassador in Algeria.
He was sworn in July 9 before an audience that included delegations from Africa, Latin America and Europe. In his first speech as president, Ghali called for a peaceful resolution to the Western Sahara dispute.
“We are advocates of peace and are ready to cooperate with the kingdom of Morocco in order to exploit opportunities for a solution that still exists, which enjoys the consensus of the world, based on respecting the Sahrawi people’s inalienable right to self-determination and independence,” he said.
He explicitly stated that such opportunities might be lost. “It’s an open door toward real peace, and the Moroccan kingdom will bear all consequences when closing it, because the Sahrawi people will relentlessly cling to defending their rights by all means,” Ghali said.