Polisario guerrillas fighting for possession of the Western Sahara have decided to continue their ceasefire in the Mauritanian sector of the territory.
Polisario guerrillas fighting for possession of the Western Sahara have decided to continue their ceasefire in the Mauritanian sector of the territory. But they have placed strict conditions on the continuation of their unilateral truce. The decision was made at the fourth congress of the Polisario Front, which has been fighting for possession of the Western Sahara which is now held by Mauritania and Morocco. At the congress, the guerrillas displayed Moroccan prisoners and equipment which they claim to have captured during fighting.
SYNOPSIS: The Polisario flag flies over the venue for the congress, in a region which the guerrillas claim to have liberated from Morocco. In 1976 Spain withdrew from the territory and ceded parts of its Western Sahara colony to Morocco and Mauritania, a decision since disputed by the guerrillas. The delegates included newsmen who were shown proof of at least a measure of success by the Polisario Front against Moroccan forces. Prisoners of war were available for the delegates to see.
The guerrillas claim to have captured large quantities of military vehicles, arms and ammunition. All are said to have been seized from Moroccans.
The Front has maintained its ceasefire with Mauritania as a mark of good-will, but the war with Morocco goes on.
A major exhibit in the display was a fragment of an aircraft, claimed by the guerrillas to be a Moroccan F-5 fighter. The pilot, Captain Ali Nedjeb, was available to speak to the delegates. His captors claim to have killed more than 100 Moroccan soldiers during two days early in September (13-15 September). The Front gives no figures for the number of prisoners it holds or of its own casualties.
The Front aims to establish a Sahara Arab Democratic Republic in the region. The conditions placed on a continued ceasefire with Mauritania would advance this cause; Mauritania would first have to recognise the new republic, cede its Sahara territory to the Polisario Front, and withdraw its troops from the region. The Western Sahara is sparsely populated but rich in phosphates, and the Polisario delegates at the congress showed their dedication and enthusiasm for their cause.
Morocco and Mauritania wanted a committee of African statesmen to examine the dispute, but Mauritania must now decide whether to accept the new conditions, or face an escalation of the fighting into its zone of the Sahara.