Mohamed Abdelaziz

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For the Mauritanian president, see Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. For the Algerian footballer, see Mohamed Abdelaziz Tchikou. For the Libyan politician, see Mohamed Abdelaziz (politician).
Mohamed Abdelaziz
محمد عبد العزيز
Mohamed Abdelaziz, 2005.jpg
President of the Sahrawi Republic
Assumed office
30 August 1976
Prime Minister Mohamed Lamine Ould Ahmed
Mahfoud Ali Beiba
Mohamed Lamine Ould Ahmed
Mahfoud Ali Beiba
Bouchraya Hammoudi Bayoun
Mahfoud Ali Beiba
Bouchraya Hammoudi Bayoun
Abdelkader Taleb Omar
Preceded by Mahfoud Ali Beiba
Personal details
Born (1947-08-17) August 17, 1947 (age 68)
Marrakesh, French Morocco or Smara, Spanish Sahara
Political party Polisario Front
Spouse(s) Khadija Hamdi
Alma mater Mohammed V University
Religion Sunni Islam

Mohamed Abdelaziz (Arabic: محمد عبد العزيز‎; born 17 August 1947) is the 3rd and current Secretary General of the Polisario Front and President of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic since 1976. He speaks Arabic and French.[1]


Abdelaziz (full birth name: Mohamed Abdelaziz ben Khalili ben Mohamed al-Bachir Er-Rguibi) was born in Marrakesh[1][2][3] or in Smara[4][5][6] into a Sahrawi family of an eastern Reguibat subtribe, migrating between Western Sahara, Mauritania, western Algeria and southern Morocco.

He is the son of Khalili Ben Mohamed Al-Bachir Rguibi, who was a member of the Moroccan Liberation Army and the Royal Moroccan Army.[7][8] Abdelaziz's father lives in Morocco with a part of his family and is a member of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs.[7][8][9] His father holds two transport licences in Morocco for buses serving Rabat–Casablanca–Essaouira.[10] The first licence was given to him by Hassan II in 1983 and the second by Mohammed VI in 2002.[10]

His brother is Mohamed Lahbib Rguibi,[11] lawyer of many Sahrawi human rights defenders as Aminatou Haidar or Naama Asfari, and former "disappeared" in Moroccan prisons between 1976 and 1991.[12][13]

As a student in the Mohammed V University of Rabat,[7] he gravitated towards Sahrawi nationalism, and became one of the founding members[citation needed] of the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi independence movement in Western Sahara with strong Arab socialist ideas which launched a few attacks against Spanish colonialism in the Spanish Sahara in 1973, but that is more notable for fighting against Mauritania and Morocco.

Since 1976 he is Secretary-General of the organization, replacing Mahfoud Ali Beiba, who had taken the post as interim Secretary-General after El-Ouali Mustapha Sayed was killed in action in Mauritania. Since that time he is also the president of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), whose first constitution he was involved in drafting[citation needed]. He lives in exile in the Sahrawi refugee camps in the Tindouf Province of western Algeria.

According to some former members of Polisario now aligned with Morocco, Abdelaziz was "chosen" by Algeria at the top of the organization although he did not belong to the very closed circle of the organization's founders and "he always considered himself to be their man."[14]

In April 2000, the Moroccan weekly newspaper Le Journal Hebdomadaire "crossed a political redline" by printing an interview with Abdelaziz, and was briefly banned from publishing.[15] The Moroccan Ministry of Communications responded by banning both Le Journal and Assahifa Al Ousbouia, though the latter had not run the interview in question. A Ministry spokesperson stated that the reasons for the papers' banning were "excesses in [their] editorial line concerning the question of Morocco’s territorial integrity" and "collusion with foreign interests".[16]

Political profile[edit]

He is considered a secular nationalist[17] and has steered the Polisario and the Sahrawi republic towards political compromise, notably in backing the United Nations' Baker Plan in 2003. Under his leadership, Polisario also abandoned its early Arab socialist orientation[citation needed], in favor of a Western Sahara organized along liberal democratic lines[citation needed]. He is, however, the 2nd longest ruling non-royal leader as he has been president of Sahrawi Republic for nearly 35 years.

The Organization of African Unity seated Western Sahara for the first time in 1982, despite Morocco's vehement objections. In 1985, Abdelaziz was elected as Vice-President of the OAU at its 21st summit, effectively signalling that the Sahrawi Republic would be a permanent OAU member despite the controversy.[18] In 2002, he was elected as vice-president of the African Union, at its first summit.[citation needed]

There is some criticism against him from within the Polisario for preventing reforms inside the movement[citation needed], and for insisting on a diplomatic course that has so far gained few concessions from Morocco, rather than re-launching the armed struggle favored by many within the movement. The only supposedly opposition group is the Front Polisario Khat al-Shahid, which states that it wants to restore the legacy of his predecessor, El-Ouali Mustapha Sayed[citation needed]. Abdelaziz specifically denied the existence of such a group;[9] he maintains that only the Polisario exists in the camps. Others[who?] consider that, despite his militant rhetoric, Abdelaziz cannot order a resumption of fighting without the approval of the Algerian government[citation needed].

Abdelaziz has condemned terrorism, insisting the Polisario's guerrilla war is to be a "clean struggle" (that is, not targeting private citizens' safety or property); he however acknowledged mistreatment to Moroccan prisoners of war as well as attacking civilian populations in Moroccan cities[9] by the polisario, justifying this as necessary evils in times of war and that the Polisario had to use every mean in order to defend the Sahrawi population from the enemy.[9]

He sent formal condolences to the afflicted governments after the terrorist attacks in New York City,[19] Madrid,[20] London[21] and Kampala.[22]

Also, as head of the SADR, he has signed the OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism at the 36th summit in Algiers, July 14, 1999,[23] the Dakar Declaration against Terrorism in October 2001 & the additional Protocol to the previous OAU's Convention on Terrorism at the 3rd session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, July 8, 2004.[24]

Awards and nominations[edit]

In 2001, he was reportedly nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize[25][26]

In December 2005, as leader of the Polisario Front, he received Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de España's "Human Rights International Prize".[27]


  1. ^ a b Pierret, Alain (2010). De la case africaine à la villa romaine: un demi-siècle au service de l'état. Harmattan. p. 174. ISBN 978-2-296-11585-9. 
  2. ^ Hughes, Stephen O. Morocco Under King Hassan, 2001. Page 247.
  3. ^ "African concord, Volumes 2-3". Concord Press of Nigeria: 6. 1989. 
  4. ^ Mohamed Abdelaziz: «El Sáhara no puede ser moneda de cambio entre España y Marruecos» (Spanish)
  5. ^ "El pueblo nos pide volver a la guerra, pero creemos que con el apoyo internacional la solución pacífica es posible" (Spanish)
  6. ^ "Esperamos que la comunidad internacional presione a Marruecos para recuperar nuestro derecho de autodeterminación" (Spanish)
  7. ^ a b c "Le père de Mohamed Abdelaziz voterait pour le Maroc". Maghress. Maghreb Arab Press. 2002-01-05. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Gazette du Maroc (2005-10-24). "De Rguibi Khalili à son fils Abdelaziz ...". Gazette du Maroc. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c d Ahmed R. Benchemsi and Mehdi Sekkouri Alaoui. "Au cœur du polisario". Telquel. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "Le père du dirigeant du Polisario et le garde-corps préféré du roi parmi les bénéficiaires d’agréments | Demain". DemainOnline. 2 March 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  11. ^ "Aminetu Haidar reaparece en un tenso juicio en Casablanca" (in Spanish). ABC. 2010-10-15. Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  12. ^ Rapport de Mission d’observateurs au proces en appel de Ennaama Asfari et de la Mission d’enquete qui s’est deroulee du 6 au 9 Mai 2007 dans les Territoires Occupes (Laayoune et Smara) pour l’Association franÇaise «Droit Solidarite» et l’Association Internationale des Juristes Democrates (French)
  13. ^ "En las mazmorras de Hassan" (in Spanish). Interviú. 2007-11-19. Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  14. ^ The Polisario Front – Credibles Negotiation Partner or After-Effect of the Coldwar and Obstacle to a Political Solution in Western Sahara?
  15. ^ "Morocco: Aboubakr Jamai". Committee to Protect Journalists. 2003. Retrieved 2 February 2012. 
  16. ^ Hani Sabra (Fall–Winter 2002). "The Business of Journalism" (PDF). Committee to Protect Journalists. Retrieved 2 February 2012. 
  17. ^ "ISS Africa - Home". ISS Africa. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  18. ^ Stefan Talmon, Recognition of Governments in International Law (1998), Oxford University Press, page 187.
  19. ^ The Polisario Front National Secretariat's Bureau, meeting under the chairmanship of Mohamed Abdelaziz, head of state and secretary-general of the Polisario Front, condemned the criminal attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the USA and, particularly, against defenceless innocent civilians. It expressed the Saharan people's solidarity with the people of the USA and their government.(Sahrawi national radio) ARSO, September 12, 2001
  20. ^ The President of the Republic presents his condolences to the King of Spain and the Head of the Government after terrorist attacks in Madrid SPS, March 11, 2004
  21. ^ The President of the Republic expresses Saharawi people's condolences to British people SPS, July 7, 2005
  22. ^ President of Republic consoles his Ugandan counterpart on victims of Kampala bomb attacks SPS, July 14, 2010
  23. ^ OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism
  24. ^ Protocol to the OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism
  25. ^ "Western Sahara - Sahara Occidental -". Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  26. ^ Cynthia Basinet - Bio
  27. ^ APDHE - Memoria de actividades 2005 (In Spanish)

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Mahfoud Ali Beiba
President of the Sahrawi Republic