Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
Motto: الحرية والديمقراطية والوحدة
"Libertad, Democracia, Unidad" (Spanish)
"Liberté, Démocratie, Unité" (French)
"Liberty, Democracy, Unity"
Anthem: Yā Banīy As-Saharā
¡Oh hijos del Sáhara! (Spanish)
O fils du Sahara! (French)
Oh Sons of the Sahara
Areas controlled by the SADR in dark green, claimed but uncontrolled areas in light green
|Largest||El Aaiún (claimed)|
|Government||Unitary one-party semi-presidential republic|
|Mohamed Wali Akeik|
|Legislature||Sahrawi National Council|
|Sovereignty disputed with Morocco|
|November 14, 1975|
• Republic declared
|February 27, 1976|
|266,000 km2 (103,000 sq mi) (83rd)|
• Water (%)
• September 2010 estimate
|100,000 or 502,585c (182nd)|
|0.37 or 1.9/km2 (1.0 or 4.9/sq mi) (236th)|
• Per capita
The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (//; SADR; also romanized with Saharawi; Arabic: الجمهورية العربية الصحراوية الديمقراطية al-Jumhūrīyah al-'Arabīyah aṣ-Ṣaḥrāwīyah ad-Dīmuqrāṭīyah Spanish: República Árabe Saharaui Democrática) and also known as Western Sahara is a partially recognized de facto sovereign state located in the western Maghreb, which claims the non-self-governing territory of Western Sahara, but controls only the easternmost one-fifth of that territory. Between 1884 and 1975, Western Sahara was known as Spanish Sahara, a Spanish colony (later an overseas province). The SADR is one of the two African states in which Spanish is a significant language, the other being Equatorial Guinea.
The SADR was proclaimed by the Polisario Front (a former socialist liberation force which has since reformed its ideological and political views) on February 27, 1976, in Bir Lehlou, Western Sahara. The SADR government controls about 20–25% of the territory it claims. It calls the territories under its control the Liberated Territories or the Free Zone. Morocco controls and administers the rest of the disputed territory, and calls these lands its Southern Provinces. The SADR government considers the Moroccan-held territory to be occupied territory, while Morocco considers the much smaller SADR-held territory to be a buffer zone. The claimed capital of the SADR is former Western Sahara capital El-Aaiún, while the temporary capital moved from Bir Lehlou to Tifariti in 2008. The seat of government is located in the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria.
The SADR maintains diplomatic relations with 31 UN states, and is a full member of the African Union.
The name Sahrawi derives from the romanization of the Arabic word Ṣaḥrāwī صحراوي, meaning "Inhabitant of the Desert". The word Ṣaḥrāwī صحراوي then is derived from the Arabic word Ṣaḥrā' (صحراء), meaning desert.
Following the evacuation of the Spanish (as a consequence of the Moroccan Green March), Spain, Morocco, and Mauritania signed the Madrid Accords on November 14, 1975, six days before Franco died. Morocco and Mauritania responded by annexing the territory of Western Sahara. On 26 February 1976, Spain informed the United Nations (UN) that as of that date it had terminated its presence in Western Sahara and relinquished its responsibilities, which left the region devoid of any Administering Power. Neither Morocco nor Mauritania gained international recognition, and war ensued with the independence-seeking Polisario Front. The UN considers the Polisario Front to be the legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people, and maintains that the people of Western Sahara have a right to "self-determination and independence".
The creation of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic was proclaimed on February 27, 1976, as the Polisario declared the need for a new entity to fill what they considered a political void left by the departing Spanish colonizers. While the claimed capital is the former Western Sahara capital El-Aaiún (which is in Moroccan-controlled territory), the proclamation was made in the government-in-exile's provisional capital, Bir Lehlou, which remained in Polisario-held territory under the 1991 ceasefire (see Settlement Plan). On February 27, 2008, the provisional capital was formally moved to Tifariti. Day-to-day business, however, is conducted in the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf Province, Algeria, which house most of the Sahrawi exile community.
A new 1999 Constitution of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic took a form similar to the parliamentary constitutions of many European states, but with some paragraphs suspended until the achievement of "full independence". Among key points, the head of state is constitutionally the Secretary General of the Polisario Front during what is referred to as the "pre-independence phase", with provision in the constitution that on independence, Polisario is supposed to be dismantled or separated completely from the government structure. Provisions are detailed for a transitory phase beginning with independence, in which the present SADR is supposed to act as Western Sahara's government, ending with a constitutional reform and eventual establishment of a state along the lines specified in the constitution.
The broad guidelines laid down in the constitution for an eventual Western Saharan state include eventual multi-party democracy with a market economy. The constitution also defines Sahrawis as a Muslim, African and Arab people. The Constitution also declares a commitment to the principles of human rights and to the concept of a Greater Maghreb, as a regional variant of Pan-Arabism.
Since August 1982, the highest office of the republic has been the President of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, a post held by the secretary-general of the Polisario Front, presently Brahim Ghali, who appoints the Prime Minister, presently Mohamed Wali Akeik. The SADR's government structure consists of a Council of Ministers (a cabinet led by the Prime Minister), a judicial branch (with judges appointed by the President) and the parliamentary Sahrawi National Council (SNC; the present speaker is Kathri Aduh). Since its inception in 1976, the various constitutional revisions have transformed the republic from an ad hoc managerial structure into something approaching an actual governing apparatus. From the late 1980s the parliament began to take steps to institute a division of powers and to disentangle the republic's structures from those of the Polisario Front, although without clear effect to date.
Its various ministries are responsible for a variety of services and functions. The judiciary, complete with trial courts, appeals courts and a supreme court, operates in the same areas. As a government-in-exile, many branches of government do not fully function, and has affected the constitutional roles of the institutions. Institutions parallel to government structures also have arisen within the Polisario Front, which is fused with the SADR's governing apparatus, and with operational competences overlapping between these party and governmental institutions and offices. A 2012 report mentioned the existence of the Sahrawi Bar Association. In 2016, the bar association (going by the name Union of Sahrawi Lawyers) issued a report calling for the implementation of political and civil rights. Unfortunately, there is no clear indication as to how certain demographic groups, such as women, have fared in the legal field.
The SNC is weak in its legislative role, having been instituted as a mainly consultative and consensus-building institution, but it has strengthened its theoretical legislative and controlling powers during later constitutional revisions. Among other things, it has added a ban on the death penalty to the constitution, and brought down the government in 1999 through a vote of no-confidence.
The composition of the Sahrawi National Council is as follows:
|Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Río de Oro||53|
The SADR acted as a government administration in the Sahrawi refugee camps located in the Tindouf Province of western Algeria. It is headquartered in Camp Rabouni, south of Tindouf, although some official events have taken place in towns in the Free Zone, including the provisional capitals, first Bir Lehlou until 2008, then Tifariti. The government of the SADR claims sovereignty over all of the Western Sahara territory, but has control only within the Free Zone. Several foreign aid agencies, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and non-governmental organizations, are continually active in the camps.
International recognition and membership
As of November 2020, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic has been recognized by 85 states. Of these, 45 have since "frozen" or "withdrawn" recognition for a number of reasons. A total of 40 UN states maintain diplomatic relations with the SADR, while a further 7 also recognise the state. Sahrawi embassies exist in 18 states.
Although it is not recognised by the UN, the SADR has held full membership of the African Union (AU, formerly the Organisation of African Unity, OAU) since 1982. Morocco withdrew from the OAU in protest during 1984, and from the time of South Africa's admittance to the OAU in 1994 was the only African UN member not also a member of the AU, until it was readmitted on 30 January 2017. The SADR participates as a guest in meetings of the Non-Aligned Movement and the New Asian–African Strategic Partnership, over Moroccan objections to SADR participation. On the other hand, Morocco's claim to Western Sahara is supported by the Arab League.
The SADR also participated in a conference of the Permanent Conference of Political Parties of the Latin American and the Caribbean (COPPPAL) in 2006; the SADR ambassador to Nicaragua participated in the opening conference of the Central American Parliament in 2010, and a SADR delegation participated in the meeting of COPPPAL and International Conference of Asian Political Parties in Mexico City in 2012.
On 27 February 2011, the 35th anniversary of the proclamation of SADR was held in Tifariti, Western Sahara. Delegations, including parliamentarians, ambassadors, NGOs and activists from many countries participated in this event.
Proposed Western Sahara Authority
Under the Baker Plan created by James Baker, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's personal envoy to Western Sahara, the SADR would have been replaced with a five-year transitional Western Sahara Authority (WSA), a non-sovereign autonomous region supervised by Morocco, to be followed by a referendum on independence. It was endorsed by the UN in 2003. However, as Morocco has declined to participate, the plan appears dead.
In April 2007, the government of Morocco suggested that a self-governing entity, through the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs (CORCAS), should govern the territory with some degree of autonomy for Western Sahara. The project was presented to the UN Security Council in mid-April 2007. A stalemate over the Moroccan proposal led the UN, in an April 2007 "Report of the UN Secretary-General", to ask the parties to enter into direct and unconditional negotiations to reach a mutually accepted political solution.
|Date||Name||Original event / Notes|
|February 27||Independence Day||Proclamation of the SADR in Bir Lehlou, 1976|
|March 8||First Martyr|
|May 10||Foundation of the Polisario Front||Founded 1973|
|May 20||May 20 Revolution||Start of the armed struggle against Spain in 1973|
|June 9||Day of the Martyrs||Day on which El-Ouali died in 1976|
|June 17||Zemla Intifada||Harakat Tahrir riots in El-Aaiun, 1970|
|October 12||Day of National Unity||Celebrating the Ain Ben Tili Conference, 1975|
The predominant religion practised in Sahrawi territories is Islam.
|Muharram 1||Islamic New Year|
|Dhul Hijja 10||Eid al-Adha||Sacrifice feast|
|Shawwal 1||Eid al-Fitr||End of Ramadan|
|Rabi' al-awwal 12||Mawlid||Birth of Muhammad|
- Elections in Western Sahara
- Foreign relations of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
- International recognition of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
- List of cities in Western Sahara
- Moroccan Western Sahara Wall
- Outline of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
- Polisario Front
- Political status of Western Sahara
- Politics of Western Sahara
- SADR. "Constitution of the SADR" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 11 November 2007. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
- Martos, Isabel. "Linguistic Policy in the Camps of Sahrawi Refugees". researchgate. Universidad de Alcalá. Archived from the original on 22 May 2021. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
- "El Español en los Campamentos de Refugiados Saharauis (Tinduf, Algeria)" (PDF). Cvc.cervantes.es. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-12-26. Retrieved 2015-05-20.
- Until complete independence. Article 32 of the SADR constitution states: The Polisario is the sole political formation allowed for Sahrawis to exercise politics until complete independence "Constitution of the SADR". Archived from the original on 11 November 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
- "Resources". ICANN.org. Archived from the original on 2008-10-11. Retrieved 2015-05-20.
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- "A/RES/34/37. Question of Western Sahara" (PDF). General Assembly—Thirty-fourth Session. United Nations. 1979. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 10, 2017. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
- "Sahara Occidental – Actualités 2008, février". February 2008. Archived from the original on 2017-01-16. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
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- Article 6 of the Sahrawi constitution. Article 2 prescribes that "Islam is the state religion and source of law".
- Zunes S; Mundy J (2010). Western Sahara: War, Nationalism, and Conflict Irresolution Syracuse University Press. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
- "Report of the Fact-Finding Mission to the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic" (PDF). African Commission on Human & Peoples' Rights. September 2012. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2014-03-30. Retrieved 2017-12-27.
- "تقرير موازي بمناسبة استعراض التقرير السادس للملكة المغربية حول تنفيذ مقتضيات العهد الدولي للحقوق المدنية و السياسية". اتحاد المحامين الصحراويين.
- "Morocco rejoins African Union". Worldbulletin. 30 January 2017. Archived from the original on 20 July 2018. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
- "NAM reiterates support to right of Saharawi people to determination". Sahara Press Service. 2012-08-30. Archived from the original on 2015-04-29. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
- "Algeria praises NAM's continued support to struggle of Saharawi people for self-determination". Sahara Press Service. 2012-09-02. Archived from the original on 2013-12-24. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
- "South Africa". ARSO – Association de soutien à un référendum libre et régulier au Sahara Occidental. 2006-09-09. Archived from the original on 2019-08-29. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
- South African Broadcasting Corporation (2006-09-01). "Asia-Afro partnership meeting kicked off today". South African Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 2006-09-01.
- South African Broadcasting Corporation (2006-09-02). "Moroccan objections taint Asian-Africa meeting". South African Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved 2006-09-02.
- "Arab League supports Morocco's territorial integrity". Arabic News. 1999-01-08. Archived from the original on 2012-09-07. Retrieved 2009-02-26.
- "Arab League withdraws inaccurate Moroccan maps". Arabic News. 1998-12-17. Archived from the original on 2012-09-07. Retrieved 2009-02-26.
- Prensa Latina (2006-09-11). "LatAm, Caribbean Parties in Nicaragua". Prensa Latina. Archived from the original on 2006-10-22. Retrieved 2006-09-11.
- "Saharawi Ambassador to Nicaragua receives delegation from Central American Parliament". SPS. 2010-01-07. Archived from the original on 2017-08-10. Retrieved 2010-02-07.
- "Saharawi Representation to Mexico attends COPPPAL-ICAPP meeting". Sahara Press Service. 2012-10-15. Archived from the original on 2013-12-24. Retrieved 2012-12-10.
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- [dead link]
- "Report of the Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara" (PDF). UN Security Council. 13 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-18.[dead link]
- Official SADR pages
- (in Spanish) Polisario.es (Official website of the Sahrawi Delegation in Spain)
- (in Arabic, English, French, and Spanish) Sahara Press Service (SPS) (official SADR press agency)
- (in Arabic and Spanish) RASD TV (official TV channel)
- (in Arabic and Spanish) SADR National Radio (official radio channel)
- SADR Oil & Gas 2005 (SADR oil and gas licensing offer)
- (in Spanish) Sahara salud (dependency of the Health ministry of the SADR)
- (in Arabic and Spanish) Economic development ministry of the SADR
- (in Spanish) Ministry of Culture of the SADR
- (in Spanish) UJSARIO (Sahrawi Youth Union. Dakhla refugee camp section blog)
- (in Spanish) UNMS (Association of Sahrawi Women in Spain)
- SADR pages
- (in Spanish) Sahara Today (Independent Digital Journal Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic)
- (in Arabic and Spanish) Futuro Saharaui (Saharawi first independent magazine founded in 1999)
- (in Spanish) FiSahara Festival de cine del Sahara – Sahara Film Festival]
- (in Spanish) El Bubisher Bookmobile and permanent Libraries Project in the Saharawi refugee camps)
- (in Spanish) EFA Abidin Kaid Saleh de la RASD Audiovisual Education School Abidin Kaid Saleh of the SADR)
- (in Spanish) ARTifariti (International Meetings of the Art in the Liberated Territories of SADR)