The Italian newspaper La Stampa on Saturday published a lengthy interview with the President of Saharawi Republic, Secretary General of the Polisario Front Mr. Brahim Ghali focusing on the current situation, the expectations following his election and the fears for a renewal of conflict.
Following the full text of the interview:
You declared the desire to bring about a 'qualitative change' to strengthen the political and organizational structure, in order to gather together all the segments of the Sahrawi society. Can you give us some information on the new direction you want to take?
The Sahrawi people, the leadership of the Polisario Front and the Government of the Sahrawi Republic, are called to make a qualitative change. This joint and shared responsibility obliges us all to achieve a precise revision of all the components of the political organization, to detect weak points and, from then on, to work to establish a set of plans based on these values in order to reach such a change. I must point out that we always begin with the priorities established at the 14th Congress of the Polisario Front, celebrated at the end of 2015.
In one passage of your speech at the Extraordinary Congress, you talk of strengthening the People's Army of the Sahrawi Liberation, to diversify training programs and specialized military training and to continue to improve it through youthful energy and quality, and to keep it ready for any eventuality. Do you expect new forms of pressure and military intervention as has long been called for by part of the Sahrawi society?
In the 14th Congress, it became clear that the armed struggle is not a threat or an instrument of political pressure. It is, more simply, a national duty of all Sahrawis, at the same time that it is a right recognized by the UN resolutions for colonized peoples and countries. The decision to utilize all international attempts to reach a peaceful and just solution, which guarantees the inalienable right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination and independence, does not mean declaring the end of the war of national liberation: on the contrary, we will support it by all legitimate means since the motivation still exists, ie the illegal Moroccan military occupation of parts of the Sahrawi Republic territory. The words you have quoted are simply a reaffirmation of one of the priorities of the 14th Congress: the training of a military force, powerful and ready for any eventuality - including the return to armed struggle - is a permanent strategic priority that is not associated with any particular circumstance.
Great importance has been given to diplomatic efforts. Do you foresee new prospects of opening representation in western States, in the EU?
I insist once again on the priorities of the 14th Congress, which, as already mentioned, frame our plans, strategies and policies both now and for the years to come. The diplomatic front will always continue to be followed with due importance and all possible energies. The theme of achieving recognition of the Sahrawi Republic and opening new embassies and new offices of the Polisario is a permanent priority in the Sahrawi diplomatic work around the world, including the UN which, I point out, recognizes the Polisario Front as the sole legitimate interlocutor of the Sahrawi people (on 5 March, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, together with envoy Christopher Ross, visited the Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria for the first time, and then went for a historic and unprecedented visit to Bir Lahlou, in the liberated territories. On that occasion he specifically spoke of "occupation" by Morocco, Ed.).
What are the relations with the Holy See and how do you view the Pope's activities?
We are always ready to open talks with the Vatican, as we have done and continue to do with many countries around the world. With the Vatican, we maintain relations of friendship and mutual respect, and we are in constant contact through our delegation in Rome. The current Pope, as well as recent predecessors, always extends special hospitality to the Sahrawi children who spend their summer vacation in Italy. We feel very close to Pope Francis and firmly defend the same values of the Vatican aimed at building a world of peace, justice and tolerance. We are counting on the cards that the Pope can play, in defending the legitimate rights of the Sahrawi people to live in freedom and peace in their own free and independent homeland, as well as all the peoples of the world.