Mustafa Salma: “The majority of the population of Tindouf would like to return to Morocco”

Like many Polisario leaders who understood that separatism with regard to the motherland had no legitimacy other than to serve the interests of the Algerian neighbor, Mustapha Salma Ould hoped Sidi Mouloud on the return of his family, kidnapped in the Algerian camps in Tindouf. It is now done in early July 2022, where his wife and children have now returned to Laâyoune before going to Smara to spend Aid Al Adha there.

While waiting for his identity papers to return to Morocco, the former head of the camp police, forced into exile in Mauritania after breaking with the separatists, reports testimony from his family exempted from being able to return to Laayoune.

Médias24: How were your wife and children able to leave the Tindouf camps?

Mustafa Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud: To begin with, I must point out that the inhabitants of the Tindouf camps have been deprived of their legal right to register as refugees with the Refugee High Commission and with the Algerian immigration services as foreign residents.

Against all logic, the Polisario, which governs their affairs, continues to regard them as citizens of a unit called the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, which is not recognized by the UN but which Algeria supports.

Based on the fact that their legal status as stateless persons is not solid, it is therefore difficult for international organizations to intervene to solve their problems.

Knowing that there is no legal way to leave the camps and that the return to Morocco by the Polisario is considered a crime of high treason, it is therefore only possible to travel to Morocco by means of redirected, and of course out of sight of the Polisario the device.

– Was it easy to send them home and how long did it take?

– Thanks to the support of the Moroccan authorities, the process was neither difficult nor long.

– How many years had they lived in Tindouf?

– For decades, since my eldest son was born in July 1998 and my daughter in August 2010.

– What was their first impression?

– They come from camps where the dominant color is gray, while Laayoune is a colorful and illuminated city with an urban design and good infrastructure unknown in Tindouf; which makes them happy as always.

– How did they find the city where you were born, compared to Tindouf?

– There is no possible comparison; and if they were not well behaved, they would have blamed me for the bad environment in which I brought them up, while their father’s land offered them all the necessities of a decent life.

– What is new from Tindouf, and how is everyday life in the camps?

– Without any exaggeration, catastrophic from all points of view. To be convinced of this, it is enough to know that angry young people during the recent incidents in the camps confiscated and took the car of the local intelligence chief hostage. This says a lot about the degree of chaos and insecurity in the camps.

In terms of living standards, I must remember that in Tindouf, 17 camp residents were sentenced last week to two years in prison and a fine for transporting a few liters of edible oil.

– Do your children intend to settle permanently in Laâyoune?

– I jokingly said to my son: “Congratulations on your return to your country”, and he replied very seriously: “Rather say to my homeland”.

In fact, what they discovered is incomparable to what they experienced in the camps, and it is obvious that today they will not exchange it better for what is inferior.

– Apart from this good news for you, do you think that the other inhabitants of Tindouf would also like to return to their country of origin?

– Of course, the majority of the displaced from Seguia el-Hamra and Oued Ed-Dahab dream of returning to their country, while the others are lulled into the illusion of victory to establish their future interests in the region.

The way back is certainly not paved with roses; many obstacles stand in the way, some of which are psychological, some of propaganda, including the family factor, and others related to interests, but in reality the majority want a dignified return if the opportunity presents itself.

– On your side, why do not you return to the land of your ancestors?

– Nothing prevents me from traveling into Morocco, except that I have not yet been able to get a travel document.

We hope that there will be a breakthrough next year in the issue of documents, after the Mauritanian government announced the introduction of a bill to regulate the situation of refugees in parliament.

– How do you see the situation developing, especially after the collapse of relations between Algeria and Morocco?

– The current regional situation does not encourage optimism due to the Algerian escalation; and without the internal problems of Algeria we could have witnessed more serious tensions in the region.

In fact, the main problem is that Algeria does not accept that Morocco is better than it in all areas, and even if it leads to their destruction together.

– A comment on Staffan de Mistura’s visit to Rabat?

– The ambiguity and secrecy that accompanied the visit, as well as the confusion in the publication of the program of the visit from the Secretary – General’s office, gave the impression that things were not going quite well.

In my opinion, Morocco’s affiliation with the country’s sovereignty over the Sahara and its lack of acceptance of negotiations in this area, as indicated in His Majesty the King’s speech on the occasion of the 46th anniversary of the Green March, the UN envoy, who had to reorganize his plans and consequently change the agenda of his visit.

Having said that, faced with the irreconcilability of the parties, such as the declaration of war issued by the Polisario after 13 November 2020 and Algeria’s demand to return to the conciliation process thirty years back, I think there is nothing to hope for immediately.

– Do you think that this 46-year-old conflict will be resolved in your life?

– Unless there is a radical change in the region, I do not think so.

Read about the same topic:

Sahara conflict: Testimony of a former senior Polisario official in exile in Nouakchott

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