Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic

"SADR" redirects here. For other uses, see SADR (disambiguation).
Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
  • República Árabe Saharaui Democrática  (Spanish)
  • الجمهورية العربية الصحراوية الديمقراطية (Arabic)
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: الحرية والديمقراطية والوحدة
"Libertad, Democracia, Unidad" (Spanish)
"Liberty, Democracy, Unity"
Anthem: Yā Banīy As-Saharā
¡O hijos del Sáhara! (Spanish)
Oh Sons of the Sahara
Areas controlled by the SADR in dark green, claimed areas in light green
Areas controlled by the SADR in dark green, claimed areas in light green
Largest city Laayoune (claimed)
Official languages Spanish[1]
Hassānīya Arabic
Government One-party semi-presidential republic[3]
   President Brahim Ghali
   Prime Minister Abdelkader Taleb Oumar
Legislature Sahrawi National Council
Sovereignty disputed with Morocco
   Western Sahara relinquished by Spain November 14, 1975 
   Republic declared February 27, 1976 
   Territory controlled 20% to 25%d 
   Total 266,000b km2 (83rd)
102,703 sq mi
   Water (%) negligible
   September 2010 estimate 100,000 or 502,585c (182nd)
   Density 1.9/km2 (236th)
4.9/sq mi
Time zone UTC
Internet TLD Nonee
a. Article 4 of the Sahrawi constitution. The SADR government is based in the Tindouf refugee camps in Algeria. It controls the area east of the Moroccan Wall in Western Sahara which it labels the "Free Zone".
b. Area of the whole territory of Western Sahara claimed by SADR.
c. 500,000 is the estimate given for the population of Western Sahara based on comparative study of population growth since 1975, the date when the last census took place in Western Sahara. 100,000 is the estimated number of people living in the Tindouf refugee camps in Algeria where the SADR is headquartered.
d. 75% to 80% of the claimed territory is de facto under Moroccan administration.
e. TLD of .eh is reserved for Western Sahara but not yet granted to any claimant.[4]

The Sahrawi Republic, officially the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR; Spanish: República Árabe Saharaui Democrática) Arabic: الجمهورية العربية الصحراوية الديمقراطية al-Jumhūrīyah al-‘Arabīyah aṣ-Ṣaḥrāwīyah ad-Dīmuqrāṭīyah, Spanish: República Árabe Saharaui Democrática) is a partially recognized state that controls a thin strip of area in the Western Sahara region and claims sovereignty over the entire territory of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony. SADR was proclaimed by the Polisario Front on February 27, 1976, in Bir Lehlou, Western Sahara.

The SADR government controls about 20–25% of the territory it claims.[5] It calls the territories under its control the Liberated Territories or the Free Zone. Morocco controls and administers the rest of the disputed territory and calls these lands its Southern Provinces. The SADR government considers the Moroccan-held territory to be occupied territory, while Morocco considers the much smaller SADR-held territory to be a buffer zone. The claimed capital of the SADR is Laayoune, while the temporary capital has been moved from Bir Lehlou to Tifariti.

The Sahrawi Republic maintains diplomatic relations with 40 UN states, and is a full member of the Africa Union.


Following the Spanish evacuation of Spanish Sahara, Spain, Morocco, and Mauritania signed the Madrid Accords on November 14, 1975, leading to both Morocco and Mauritania moving in to annex the territory of Western Sahara. On 26 February 1976, Spain informed the United Nations that as of that date it had terminated its presence in Western Sahara and relinquished its responsibilities, leaving no Administering Power.[6] Neither Morocco nor Mauritania gained international recognition, and war ensued with the independence-seeking Polisario Front, claiming to represent the Sahrawi people. The creation of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic was proclaimed on February 27, 1976, as the Polisario declared the need for a new entity to fill what they considered a political void left by the departing Spanish colonisers. While the claimed capital is Laayoune, in Moroccan-controlled territory, the proclamation was made in the government-in-exile's provisional capital, Bir Lehlou, which remained in Polisario-held territory under the 1991 cease-fire (see Settlement Plan). On February 27, 2008, the provisional capital was formally moved to Tifariti.[7][8] Day-to-day business, however, is conducted in the Tindouf refugee camps in Algeria, which house most of the Sahrawi exile community.


A new 1999 Constitution of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic took a form similar to the parliamentary constitutions of many European states, but with some paragraphs suspended until the achievement of "full independence". Among key points, the head of state is constitutionally the Secretary General of the Polisario Front during what is referred to as the "pre-independence phase," with provision in the constitution that on independence, Polisario is supposed to be dismantled or separated completely from the government structure. Provisions are detailed for a transitory phase beginning with independence, in which the present SADR is supposed to act as Western Sahara's government, ending with a constitutional reform and eventual establishment of a state along the lines specified in the constitution.

The broad guidelines laid down for an eventual Western Saharan state in the constitution include eventual multi-party democracy with a market economy. The constitution also defines Sahrawis as a Muslim, African and Arab people.[9] The Constitution also declares a commitment to the principles of human rights and to the concept of a Greater Maghreb, as a regional variant of Pan-Arabism.

Government structure

Since August 1982, the highest office of the republic is the President of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, a post held by the secretary-general of the Polisario, presently Brahim Ghali,[10] who appoints the Prime Minister, presently Abdelkader Taleb Oumar. The SADR's government structure consists of a Council of Ministers (a cabinet led by the Prime Minister), a judicial branch (with judges appointed by the President) and the parliamentary Sahrawi National Council (SNC, present speaker is Kathri Aduh). Since its inception in 1976, the various constitutional revisions have transformed the republic from an ad hoc managerial structure into something approaching an actual governing apparatus. From the late 1980s the parliament began to take steps to institute a division of powers and disentangle the republic's structures from those of the Polisario party, although without clear effect to date.

Its various ministries are responsible for a variety of services and functions. The judiciary, complete with trial courts, appeals courts and a supreme court, operates in the same areas. As a government-in-exile, many branches of government do not fully function, and has affected the constitutional roles of the institutions. Institutions parallel to government structures also have arisen within the Polisario Front, which is fused with the SADR's governing apparatus, and with operational competences overlapping between these party and governmental institutions and offices.

The SNC is weak in its legislative role, having been instituted as a mainly consultative and consensus-building institution, but it has strengthened its theoretical legislative and controlling powers during later constitutional revisions. Among other things, it has added a ban on the death penalty to the constitution, and brought down the government in 1999 through a vote of no-confidence.

The composition of the Sahrawi National Council is as follows:

 Composition of the Sahrawi National Council
Party Seats
Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Río de Oro 53
Total 53

Area of authority

The SADR acted as a government administration in the Sahrawi refugee camps located in the Tindouf Province of western Algeria. It is headquartered in Camp Rabouni, south of Tindouf, although some official events have taken place in towns in the Free Zone, including the provisional capitals, first Bir Lehlou until 2008, then Tifariti. The government of the SADR claims sovereignty over all of the Western Sahara territory, but has control only within the Free Zone. Several foreign aid agencies, including the UN High Commission for Refugees, and nongovernmental organizations are continually active in the camps.

International recognition and membership

As of 2016, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic has been recognized by 85 states. Of these, 37 have since "frozen" or "withdrawn" recognition for a number of reasons. A total of 40 UN states maintain diplomatic relations with the SADR, while a further 7 also recognise the state. Sahrawi embassies exist in 18 states.

Although it is not recognised by the United Nations, the SADR has held full membership of the African Union (AU, formerly the Organisation of African Unity, OAU) since 1982. Morocco withdrew from the OAU in protest during 1984 and remains the only African United Nations member not within the AU since South Africa's admittance in 1994. The SADR participates as guest on meetings of the Non-Aligned Movement[11][12] or the New Asian–African Strategic Partnership,[13][14] over Moroccan objections to SADR participation.[15] On the other hand, Morocco's claim to Western Sahara is supported by the Arab League.[16][17]

Ways to show Western Sahara in maps

The SADR also participated in a conference of the Permanent Conference of Political Parties of the Latin American and the Caribbean (COPPPAL), 2006,[18] the SADR ambassador to Nicaragua participated in the opening conference of the Central American Parliament, 2010,[19] and SADR delegation participated in meeting of COPPPAL and International Conference of Asian Political Parties in Mexico City, 2012.[20]

On 27 February 2011, the 35th anniversary of the proclamation of SADR was held in Tifariti, Western Sahara. Delegations, including parliamentarians, ambassadors, NGOs and activists from many countries participated in this event.[21][22]

The SADR is not a member of the Arab League, nor of the Arab Maghreb Union, both of which include Morocco as a full member.

Proposed Western Sahara Authority

Commemoration of the 30th independence day in Tifariti, Liberated Territories, Western Sahara

Under the Baker Plan created by James Baker, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's personal envoy to Western Sahara, the SADR would have been replaced with a five-year transitional Western Sahara Authority (WSA), a non-sovereign autonomous region supervised by Morocco, to be followed by a referendum on independence. It was endorsed by the UN in 2003. However, as Morocco has declined to participate, the plan appears dead.

In April 2007, the government of Morocco suggested that a self-governing entity, through the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs (CORCAS), should govern the territory with some degree of autonomy for Western Sahara. The project was presented to the United Nations Security Council in mid-April 2007. A stalemate over the Moroccan proposal led the UN in an April 2007 "Report of the UN Secretary-General" to ask the parties to enter into direct and unconditional negotiations to reach a mutually accepted political solution.[23]

National holidays

A mosque in Dakhla.
The Spanish actress Verónica Forqué at the Sahara Film Festival.
Date Name Original event / Notes
February 27 Independence Day Proclamation of the SADR in Bir Lehlou, 1976
May 10 Foundation of the Polisario Front Founded 1973
May 20 May 20 Revolution Start of the armed struggle against Spain in 1973
June 5 Day of the Disappeared Remembering missing Sahrawis
June 9 Day of the Martyrs Day on which El-Ouali died in 1976
June 17 Zemla Intifada Harakat Tahrir riots in El-Aaiun, 1970
October 12 Day of National Unity Celebrating the Ain Ben Tili Conference, 1975

Islamic dates

Dates kept according to the lunar Islamic calendar.

Date Name Observance
Dhul Hijja 10 Eid al-Adha Sacrifice feast
Shawwal 1 Eid al-Fitr End of Ramadan
Rabiul Awwal 12 Mawlid Birth of Muhammad

See also


  1. "Como saharauis queremos conservar el español". 2008-03-13. Retrieved 2015-01-28.
  3. Until complete independence. Article 32 of the SADR constitution states: The Polisario is the sole political formation allowed for Sahrawis to exercise politics until complete independence SADR. "Constitution of the SADR". Archived from the original on 11 November 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  4. "Resources". Retrieved 2015-05-20.
  5. "Cuadro de zonas de división del Sáhara Occidental" (PDF) (in Spanish). Retrieved 2015-05-20.
  6. "Letter dated 29 January 2002 from the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, the Legal Counsel, addressed to the President of the Security Council". United Nations. 2002-01-29. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
  7. "SAHARA OCCIDENTAL - Actualités 2008, février". February 2008. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
  8. "Sahara Info" (PDF). March 2008. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
  9. Article 6 of the Sahrawi constitution. Article 2 prescribes that “Islam is the state religion and source of law”.
  10. Zunes S; Mundy J (2010). Western Sahara: War, Nationalism, and Conflict Irresolution Syracuse University Press. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  11. "NAM reiterates support to right of Saharawi people to determination". Sahara Press Service. 2012-08-30. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
  12. "Algeria praises NAM's continued support to struggle of Saharawi people for self-determination". Sahara Press Service. 2012-09-02. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
  13. "South Africa". ARSO - Association de soutien à un référendum libre et régulier au Sahara Occidental. 2006-09-09. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
  14. South African Broadcasting Corporation (2006-09-01). "Asia-Afro partnership meeting kicked off today". South African Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 2006-09-01.
  15. South African Broadcasting Corporation (2006-09-02). "Moroccan objections taint Asian-Africa meeting". South African Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved 2006-09-02.
  16. "Arab League supports Morocco's territorial integrity". Arabic News. 1999-01-08. Retrieved 2009-02-26.
  17. "Arab League withdraws inaccurate Moroccan maps". Arabic News. 1998-12-17. Retrieved 2009-02-26.
  18. Prensa Latina (2006-09-11). "LatAm, Caribbean Parties in Nicaragua". Prensa Latina. Retrieved 2006-09-11.
  19. "Saharawi Ambassador to Nicaragua participates in meetings of PARLACEN". SPS. 2010-01-07. Retrieved 2010-02-07.
  20. "Saharawi Representation to Mexico attends COPPPAL-ICAPP meeting". Sahara Press Service. 2012-10-15. Retrieved 2012-12-10.
  21. "Western Sahara: 35 years of colonisation and exile is enough | Kenworthy News Media - development & socio-political issues". 2011-03-03. Retrieved 2015-05-20.
  22. "Report of the Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara" (PDF). UN Security Council. 13 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-18.
Official SADR pages
SADR pages
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