Nomination for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for Mohamed Abdelaziz, President of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic submitted by Suzanne Scholte January 30, 2016
As the democratically elected President of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), Mohamed Abdelaziz has labored his entire life to see justice prevail for the people of Western Sahara, the only colony yet to be decolonized in Africa. Abdelaziz has carefully guided the POLISARIO, an organization he helped found, and the SADR, a Republic he has lead since his first election in 1982, to seek peaceful resolution to this conflict first through the International Court of Justice (1974) and more recently through the United Nations (1991).
Despite enormous pressure to return to armed conflict, President Abdelaziz has remained steadfast in this commitment to resolve this issue peacefully through the long promised United Nations’ sponsored referendum. Despite the ongoing atrocities committed against the Sahrawi people and the exploitation of their natural resources in Moroccan-Occupied Western Sahara, Abdelaziz has relied on the rule of law and the international community to press for human rights protections for his people and the natural resources of their country. He has directed his diplomats to seek redress peacefully relying on the justness of their cause.
Despite the harsh conditions in the refugee camps where hundreds of thousands of Sahrawis are forced to live in the Sahara Desert while they await the referendum, Abdelaziz has guided his people to establish a Republic, which is now recognized as the legitimate government of Western Sahara by over 70 nations. Under his leadership the SADR was admitted as a full member of the African Union. An indication of the respect he commands across the African continent is the fact that he has also been elected several times to serve in the leadership of the African Union.
Under his leadership the SADR established a constitution guaranteeing the right to vote for all citizens 18 years of age; guaranteeing equal rights for women; calling for free market economy; religious freedom; and elected government. In fact, the Sahrawis have run their refugee camps utilizing a democratic system in which elections are held for national leadership and Governors of the refugee camps. Women have served as Governors and currently are well represented in the national leadership.
Abdelaziz has led the Sahrawis to establish educational institutions that have resulted in an over 90% literacy rate among his people, making them the most educated African people group – and this was achieved while they were refugees!
Sahrawi women have been fully integrated in their society and enjoy the same rights and opportunities as men, and there is full enfranchisement for all Sahrawis eighteen years of age and older to vote and to participate in self-governance.
Abelaziz has tried repeatedly to not seek reelection for President because of his commitment to see democracy flourish and his desire to transfer power peacefully to his successor. However, the Sahrawi people have continued to re-elect him, even when he has not sought re-election. They believe he is the one who must continue to guide them until self-determination is realized and the long struggle over Western Sahara is peacefully and finally resolved.
As someone who has worked in human rights issues for over twenty years, I have never found a more noble and honorable people than the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara or a more remarkable leader than Mohamed Abdelaziz.
During a time in history when terrorism is increasingly used as a means to advance one’s objectives, what Abdelaziz has been able to accomplish personifies what the Nobel Peace Prize represents and makes him a worthy candidate for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. His selection would be especially meaningful to the Muslim world and the people of North Africa and the Middle East whose communities are facing such terrible tragic conflicts and instability.
H.E. Mr Mohamed Abdelaziz, President of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and Secretary-General of the Frente POLISARIO
He was born in Smara (Western Sahara) in 1948 where he did his studies.
He took part in the establishment of the national movement that prepared the liberation struggle.
He is a founding member of the Frente POLISARIO.
He was elected member of the Politburo of the Frente POLISARIO in its Constitutive Congress, on 10 May 1973.
He was the Head of a Department during the clandestine phase of struggle against Spanish colonisation.
He was a Commander of a military region until his election as Secretary-General of the Frente POLISARIO and President of the Command Council of the Revolution in August 1976.
He was elected as President of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in October 1982.
He was re-elected to the same post in 1985, 1989, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003 , 2007,2011 and 2015
He was elected several times as Vice-president of the Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union).
Married and father of six children.