Mohamed Abdelaziz’s Hospitalization Ignites Succession Battle

maladie-abdelazizThe critical condition of the Polisario chief, Mohamed Abdelaziz, and his recent hospitalization ignited suspicions and tensions among the Tindouf camps residents.

Mohamed Abdelaziz, already diagnosed with lungs cancer, was secretly flown last Monday to Italy where he has been hospitalized for an acute asthma attack.

Attempts by the Algerian intelligence services (DRS) to stifle the news have not prevented speculations about his succession at the head of the separatist front.

 According to sources close to the Polisario leadership in Rabouni, DRS Generals are endeavoring to ensure a smooth succession, but the Polisario leaders have already engaged a latent battle with the support of their respective tribes.

At least three candidates are in the race, although they are aware that no one can access the position without the blessings of the Algerian Presidential Palace of the approval of the DRS.

The forerunner is the so-called Defense Minister of the self-proclaimed SADR, Mohamed Lamine Bouhali, who is of Algerian origin and who had served in the ranks of the Algerian National Liberation Army. He is also close to the Algerian power and knows the ins and outs of the Western Sahara issue.

 His only handicap is the bad reputation he gained because of his tough management of the Tindouf camps and his alleged involvement in the scandalous misuse of international aid.

The other two likely candidates are Bachir Mustapha Sayed, the brother of the Polisario founder, the late Mustapha Sayed El Ouali, killed in Mauritania, and Mohamed Sidati, Polisario representative in Europe.

Mohamed Sidati, being the son of a Moroccan magistrate and grand-son of Sheikh Ahmed El Hiba, a former member of the Moroccan Liberation Army, has little chance of being selected.

Anyways, the task of whoever is picked will not be easy as the Tindouf camps have been shaken by repeated uprisings for a long time and the populations’ anger is not about to calm down any time soon, especially after the recent revelations of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) regarding the misappropriation by Polisario leaders and Algerian officials of the European aid destined to the camps.


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