Algeria's President Houari Boumedienne has called on African leaders to speed up a summit meeting on the worsening conflict in the western Sahara, where Algerian backed guerrillas of the Polisario Front are fighting Moroccan and Mauritanian forces.
Algeria's President Houari Boumedienne has called on African leaders to speed up a summit meeting on the worsening conflict in the western Sahara, where Algerian backed guerrillas of the Polisario Front are fighting Moroccan and Mauritanian forces. The situation's also been discussed by Arab Foreign Ministers meeting in Tunis. The Polisario Front want independence for the Spanish Sahara, which was handed over to Morocco and Mauritania when Spain pulled out last year. The activities of the Polisario guerrillas are becoming increasingly worrying, particularly for Mauritania, and recently she announced the formation of a new National Civilian Force to combat guerrilla activity.
SYNOPSIS: Madame Mariem Daddah, wife of the Mauritanian president, is commander of the force's Unit Number One - a measure of the importance being accorded the new group, and she has been making sure her trainees are up to scratch. With the deteriorating situation in the area, the progress of the National Civilian Force is being carefully monitored.
Madame Mariem Daddah has told her troops that they will play an important back-up role for the country's regular armed forces. These are thinly stretched over a country the size of France and Spain together-nearly 400,000 square miles (over a million square kilometres). The army, navy and air force combined number less than 5,000 men and women, and there's a 1,300 strong gendarmerie.
The National Civilian Force, made up of male and female volunteers, has been receiving intensive military training from army instructors.
There has been increasing guerrilla activity inside Mauritania, ever since she began to occupy that part of the Sahara ceded her by Spain. The scope of guerrilla activity is growing, and they attacked the capital, Nouakchott, earlier this year. With the guerrillas intent on independence, there's no solution in sight.