Tindouf Camps Shaken by a kind of Revolt

tindouf-manifestationJanuary was the darkest month ever for the Polisario leader Mohamed Abdelaziz and his lieutenants.
While the Polisario leaders were readying to receive the UN mediator for the Sahara, Christopher Ross, they were caught off guard by a wave of protests that swept over the Tindouf camps.
The unanticipated protest movement staged by some 400 Sahrawis from the Rguibate tribe on January 23-24 in the Smara camp bewildered the Polisario leaders most, according to “Courrier Stratégique,” a Paris-based electronic magazine.
Protesters stormed and burned police barracks and set fire to vehicles belonging to Polisario militia leaders.
Quoting Algerian security sources, the e-magazine, specialized in strategic issues, reported that an almost insurrectional climate is prevailing in the camps located in south-western Algeria.
The Polisario camps, especially the Smara and Rabouni camps, have been boiling with anger since the beginning of January. Many peaceful demonstrations were staged in these camps but they were violently repressed by the Polisario armed militia out of fear to see the uprising spread to other camps.
Earlier this month, a group of Sahrawis from the Rguibat tribe took to the street in Rabouni to claim an investigation after two Sahrawis were shot dead by Algerian soldiers near the border with Mauritania.
Also, dozens of demonstrators are holding a sit- in in Rabouni outside the office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to protest the Polisario leadership’s refusal to allow them to meet the UN mediator for the Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, who is currently touring the region.
For Algerian authorities, this insurrection climate in the camps comes at the wrong time, since it coincides with Ross’s visit on the one hand and since the turmoil is taking place while Algeria is on the eve of the presidential elections, scheduled for next April.
According to Western observers quoted by the e-magazine, Algeria and the Polisario fear the extension of this turmoil to other camps and the radicalization of some Polisario elements, all the more so as such a situation would benefit Morocco, whose position is already comfortable on the international arena and whose autonomy plan for the Sahara is backed by the international community and world powers.