Does Brahim Ghali still have a future? – Young Africa

Did Brahim Ghali really come back from the dead? Since leaving Spain on June 2, the leader of the Polisario Front has been non-existent, while he is believed to be leading a military, diplomatic and legal offensive against Morocco.

As a reminder, the president of SADR had arrived in Spain in the greatest secrecy aboard a medical plane chartered by the Algerian presidency on April 18, before being admitted to Logrono Hospital in a “critical state of complications related to Covid-19.

A hospitalization that had caused a major diplomatic crisis between Morocco and Spain, and the outcome of which is still awaited despite several signs of reconciliation between the two neighbors.

It took until September 18 for Brahim Ghali to return to the Tindouf camp.

On the spot, Brahim Ghali had nevertheless been captured by the court. In fact, the head of the Polisario was the subject of two complaints: one for “genocide”, filed in 2008 by the Sahrawi Association for the Defense of Human Rights (ASADEH), the other for “torture”, deposited in 2020 by Fadel Breika, a dissident from Polisario naturalized Spanish.

From his hospital room, therefore, Brahim Ghali was heard at video conference on June 1 by investigating judge Santiago Pedraz.

After several hours of hearing, the judge decided not to take any action against Ghali. After 54 days of hospitalization, the latter was therefore given the right to leave Spain to continue his convalescence in Algiers.

Marketing operation

In Algeria, Brahim Ghali took the opportunity to restore his health. He initially went on to receive treatment at the Aïn Naâdja Military Hospital, which was considered one of the best establishments in Africa.

On the spot, barely a few hours after his arrival, the Algerian president, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, and the commander of the armed forces, Saïd Chengriha, went to his bed.

A much-publicized visit where we can clearly hear the Algerian president say to Ghali: “I am glad that you have introduced yourself to Spanish law. You have shown that SADR is a republic that will never leave the law. »

Two days later, a snapshot of Brahim Ghali in conversation with his “Prime Minister”, Bouchraya Hammoudi Bayoune, circulated widely.

A way to show a “president” concerned and in full possession of his means. And on July 19, the day of Eid el-Kébir, Brahim Ghali finally gave a 12-minute speech broadcast on the Front’s TV channel from Algiers. The opportunity to take the field again.

During this time, in the Tindouf camp, it was the leader of the Polisario diplomacy, Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, who chained interviews in the international media to fill the void left by Ghali.

In an open letter, Zeidan condemns the “bankruptcy of all institutions”

Finally, at the end of July, the investigating judge, Santiago Pedraz, decided to dismiss the charge of “genocide” against Brahim Ghali, a decision upheld by the Spanish courts on 4 October.

Only here, after this summer communication operation, did Brahim Ghali give almost no sign of life. And it was not until September 18 that he returned to Tindouf, where an official welcome was reserved for him in the yellow palace of the Rabouni camp, his headquarters, and the administrative headquarters of the Polisario leadership.

The absent are always wrong

But six months (in total) of a power vacuum is a lot. Throughout the summer and until the return of Brahim Ghali, discontent increased in the Tindouf camp.

In the ranks of the Polisario, in July, some invoked Article 61 of the Constitution, which provides that in the event of a vacancy in the post of President of the Republic, the President of the National Assembly shall assume the functions of President of the Republic. Republic for a period not exceeding forty days.

But the rector in question, Hamma Salama, former number two of President Mohamed Abdelaziz, did not show up.

In early September, Mahmoud Zeidan, an opponent of the current Polisario leadership, who, incidentally, would have spent several months in jail with Fadel Breika, called for a coup.

In an open letter, even a call to overthrow the management of Polisario, Zeidan condemns “the bankruptcy of all institutions”, “the total absence of security structures, civilian and military” and points to the socio-economic difficulties: the poor quality services provided by the Algerian electricity company to the Sahrawis in Tindouf and the reduction in public spending, which may affect the budget allocated to the education of Sahrawi children in college boarding schools.

Most of the key positions in the Polisario management are vacant

Zeidan goes even further, writing that the leaders of the seven military regions are in the camps instead of being at the front to fight the Moroccan Royal Armed Forces (FAR) west of the security wall.

Almost simultaneously, Bachir Halla, SADR member of parliament, compared Brahim Ghali to a “puppet”, provoking a “catastrophic” situation in the Tindouf camp due to “difficult leadership based on tribal clientelism, as relatives of Ghali advocate”.

No relief

According to several sources, Brahim Ghali would have “recovered” and would be in good shape, at least as far as his pollution with Covid-19 is concerned.

But the 73-year-old man, who has been suffering from hepatitis C for several years, also suffers from several pathologies: cirrhosis of the liver and cancer of the digestive system, which forces him to undergo heavy treatments.

It is legitimate to marvel at Brahim Ghali’s ability to carry out his duties in a particularly sensitive and turbulent military, political and diplomatic context.

Physically fragile, Brahim Ghali is just as politically fragile. “He is a convalescent president between Algiers and the Tindouf camp, who has major health problems and who is completely remotely controlled by the Algerian services, as is the majority of the front line,” said Bachir Dkhil, a former founding member. Polisario. Moreover, Ghali’s state of weakness is comparable to Polisarios.

“Most of the key positions in the Polisario management are vacant, no new faces have emerged, there are no achievements, the situation is catastrophic, SADR has sunk into dullness,” he continues.

Several “headliners” are either dead or seriously ill

On the spot, the Polisario front is no longer synonymous with unity, the elite and the peoples have returned to a political view based on tribal politics to defend their interests. “Some therefore occupy Ghalis and the front leadership to manage current affairs. There are strong internal struggles between the tribes, who have their own representatives within the Polisario management itself, ”points out Dkhil.

On the Moroccan side, it has been suggested for almost two years that the Algerian power is trying to get rid of Ghali, who would have become a nuisance, and replace him, but without being able to find a replacement worthy of the name. It must be said that several “headliners” are either dead or seriously ill.

Abdellah Lahbib Bellal, for example, unlike Ghali, was one of the favorites of the Algerian services, but he died in August 2021.

The other name that emerges is Mohamed Amine Ould Bouhali, “ex-defense minister”, adviser to Brahim Ghali and leader of the Polisario reserve militias, known for his proximity to General Saïd Chengriha and for embodying an even tougher line than it. of Ghali in the conflict with Morocco.

The stakes are high, because without a successor who is able to take matters into his own hands, “we risk seeing the emergence of armed groups, terrorists, as in the Sahel, Dkhil prophesies, unless he continues to change the nature of power. “If the country succeeds in establishing a civil and democratic regime, it will inevitably have consequences for Polisario, who can engage in a solution to resolve the conflict.”

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