While many African countries were beginning their access to their political independence, during the 50s and 60s, the issue of the Spanish Sahara was a priority and was present on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly in 1965. The argument for the liberation of the territory was based on Resolution 1514 (XV) of 1960 of the General Assembly, the Declaration of Recognition of Independence of Colonized Countries and Peoples. The 1965 resolution set the pattern for many subsequent resolutions passed on the Sahara question, both by the General Assembly and by other international meetings, especially the Conference of Non-Aligned Countries and the Organization for African Unity.
However, the Saharawi people were never satisfied or passive during the invasion and exchange of their land. Isolated actions were carried out against Spanish domination, but it was in 1967 when the struggle became organized with the creation of the Movement for the Liberation of the Sahara. In 1970 an intensive campaign was developed to mobilize the Saharawi people in the name of their independence, which triggered a demonstration against the efforts of the colonial power to turn the Sahara into a Spanish province. The Spanish reacted by massacring the protesters and dissolving the liberation movement.
The Sahrawis understood that they had no other way than to take up arms and go out to fight, so on May 10, 1973, the Constitutive Congress for the Front for the Liberation of Saguia el Hamra and Río de Oro, known as the Polisario Front, was constituted. The actions of this Front provoked an escalation of bombings, massacres and torture to the civil population that was forced to a massive exodus to the areas controlled by the Polisario Front and on the border towards Tindouf in Algeria, which has supported the Sahrawi cause for the self-determination.
The Polisario Front, like the liberation movements in other parts of Africa, had to get involved with the armed struggle and with the distribution of food, medical assistance, the construction of schools and hospitals, literacy courses and, in general, preparing the conditions for the future liberated society.
The Polisario Front represents the Saharawi people, however, the recognition of this has led most of the African States to see it. However, the 27 of February of 1976, the day the last Spanish soldier left the territory, the Polisario Front proclaimed at Bir-LELU the creation of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). Since then the Republic has been recognized by numerous states, both African and others. It was proclaimed on February 27 to emphasize that the Sahrawi people had asserted their sovereignty.
The Saharawi Republic had been recognized until 1990 by 74 states, mainly African and American; He joined the Organization of African Unity in 1982 and obtained, from 1979, a progressive acceptance in the UN, which constantly advocated in its resolutions a referendum on self-determination and preliminary talks between Morocco and the Polisario Front to reach a halt. the fire. Although Morocco refused to do so, finally, in January 1989, Hassan II received those responsible for the Front, but without achieving positive results.
The efforts of the Secretary General of the UN, Pérez de Cuellar, until 1991 contributed considerably, since they managed to obtain a plan for the Sahara. In april That year, Morocco was forced to accept this plan, the Polisario Front admitted it and the resolutions of the UN Security Council also endorsed it. The fundamental point was the realization of a referendum of self-determination of the Saharawis, with the options of independence or integration in Morocco, under the control and auspices of the UN. The plan was very detailed and included the ceasefire, exchange of prisoners, freedom of political detainees, withdrawal of part of the Moroccan forces, confinement of the combatants, return of the exiles, preparation of an electoral census, freedom of propaganda, annulment. repressive laws, etc. The long history of a people, with its own personality and culture and a tradition of independence through the centuries,
For the year 1992, a consultation for the Referendum in Western Sahara was foreseen, this did not take place due to the discrepancies on the census. The 90s are happening one after another full of attempts to prepare a census for the referendum, between continuous discrepancies between both parties. Meanwhile, Hassan II of Morocco, established the division of Western Sahara into provinces, with a structure very similar to that of Morocco. Subsequently, the first electoral roll was published in 1999, without progress, as the Saharawi situation remains intact. The census is completed in the year 2000, but without progress, as disagreements continue between the Polisario Front and Morocco, so the referendum cannot be carried out that year either.
According to softwareleverage.org, UN sends in 2003 to James Baker as a special envoy for the issue of the Western Sahara, proposing the two sides in the matter a program that included a wide range of Western Sahara within Morocco as a preliminary to holding a referendum on the final status of the territory within four years. Morocco and the Polisario Front did not agree with Baker’s proposal, made in March of that same year, and rejected it, however, the Polisario changed its point of view and in July accepted the plan, without agreeing with the Moroccan side that remained intransigent on the issue of the sovereignty of Western Sahara.
So far no solution has been reached and, of course, no consultation has been held. Meanwhile, the Sahrawi refugees remain in the Algerian desert, mainly in the refugee camps of Tindouf.
Kofi Annan, the president of the UN, pointed out that at the end of his term that the Sahara conflict had a very difficult solution. The main urban centers of Western Sahara in 2005, became the scene of serious protests against the Moroccan occupation; The peaceful demonstration in support of independence and the Polisario Front was dissolved. In 2010, the Moroccan police dissolved a protest camp on the outskirts of El Ayoun, later starting a series of protests by the Sahrawi people in the city itself, with the subsequent intervention of the Moroccan authorities.