Fifty-five members of the Saharan General Assembly, the Yemaa, arrived in Algiers of Saturday (6 December) and proclaimed the Algerian-backed Polisario Front independence movement as the sole legitimate authority of the Saharan people.
SV Aircraft taxiing in as security officer watches (2 shots)
SV Spanish Saharan delegates out of aircraft (3 shots)
SV Delegation walking away from aircraft
SV AND CU INTERIOR Delegates received by President Boumedienne in people's Palace (3 shots)
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Fifty-five members of the Saharan General Assembly, the Yemaa, arrived in Algiers of Saturday (6 December) and proclaimed the Algerian-backed Polisario Front independence movement as the sole legitimate authority of the Saharan people.
A declaration dissolving the Yemma and transferring its powers to a Provisional National Council was read out at a news conference in the presence of the 55 members of the 104-man assembly who had been specially flown to Algiers.
A Polisario Front spokesman said 12 other members of the Yemaa had also signed the declaration last month set up a joint Spanish-Moroccan-mauritanian administration in the territory, pending Spain's withdrawal.
The Yemma, an assembly of tribal chiefs, was created in 1968 in a series of Spanish reforms which coincided with the opening of large phosphate mines in the territory.
The tripartite agreement on the future of the Sahara said that "the opinion of the Saharan population, as it will be expressed through the Yemma, will be respected.
But the Yemma has been rejected as unrepresentative by both Algeria and the Polisaric Front who have insisted on a referendum over the territory's future. Three members of the Spanish Cortes (Parliament) were also present at the news conference.
Algerian president Houari Boumedienne later received the Saharans at the People's Palace. He has expressed determination not to allow Morocco to take over the territory.
But Moroccan King Hassan has said he was prepared, if necessary, for a long struggle with Algerian-backed guerrillas in the desert. It is understood he was referring to the Polisario Front.
Fifty-five members of the Saharan General Assembly, the Yemma, arrived in Algiers on Saturday. They were specially flown to Algeria to announce the dissolution of the Yemaa and to proclaim the Polisario Front the legitimate authority in the disputed desert authority in the disputed desert territory. The visiting Saharans represented an assembly majority. The Algerian-backed Polisario Front seeks full independence for the Spanish Sahara. This is in direct opposition to a tripartite agreement signed last month by Spain, Morocco and mauritania for a joint administration in the territory. The Yemma, an assembly of tribal chiefs, was created in 1968 in a series of Spanish reforms coinciding with the opening of large phosphate mines there.
One of the Front's main objections to the tripartite agreement is that it does not take into account the wishes of the population. It only says it will respect the views of the now dissolved Yemaa.
The Saharans were warmly received in the People's Palace by Algerian President Houari Boumedienne. he has expressed determination not to allow Morocco to take over the Spanish Sahara. Morocco's King Hassan has said he is prepared for a long struggle with Algerian-backed guerrillas in the desert. The King's announced that his troops would eliminate elements opposed to a reunification of the territory with Morocco. Moroccan troops have since entered Smara, a key desert town commanding a crossroads on routes across the northeastern corner of the territory. The official Algerian news agency, APS. has accused the troops of atrocities and massacring civilians.