The Polisario irritated by the «betrayal» of its Podemos allies

Under the orders of Pablo Iglesias, Podemos marks its distance from the Polisario. The Spanish Foreign minister’s tweet on the Polisario flag is just one of the latest episodes between Podemos and the separatist movement.

Pablo Iglesias, Second Deputy Prime Minister and the Podemos Secretary-General. / DR
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Controversy surrounding the Polisario flag goes on to yet another episode. After the Spanish Foreign minister published on the Africa Day an African map that did not include the separatist movement’s flag, the latter slammed its allies within Spanish party Podemos.

Earlier in May, representatives of the Brahim Ghali movement and their allies in Spain launched a lobbying campaign with far-left MPs to address questions to Foreign Affairs minister Arancha Gonzalez and denounce her tweet that excluded the Polisario flag.

The plan, however, failed. According to well-informed sources, the initiative was going against instructions given by Pablo Iglesias urging his comrades not to interfere in a political subject that falls within the competence of the government.

Faced with this rejection, the Polisario was forced to turn to Néstor Rego Candamil, an MP of the separatist Galician Nationalist Bloc, to fulfill the same mission. The MP asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs in particular if the Spanish government did not plan to «recognize and establish diplomatic relations with the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) as a sovereign state». 

In the past, it was Podemos who used to fulfill such tasks and went as far as including it on its electoral program for the legislative elections of April 28, 2019.

The Polisario slams Podemos

Since taking office as Second Deputy Prime Minister, Podemos Secretary-General Pablo Iglesias has wanted to prove himself as a «statesman» at the risk of irritating his former allies, including the Polisario.

On January 23 and during the controversy following the adoption, by Moroccan MPs, of the two draft laws establishing Moroccan sovereignty over the waters of the Sahara, he avoided commenting on the news. «I am convinced that the Minister of Foreign Affairs will be able to provide the most adequate and consistent response (...) I have no doubt that the minister will fulfill her duty in an excellent manner», he said. 

Four weeks later, he took the opportunity to publicly reaffirm these new «convictions», always on the same subject. «It is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which determines the position of Spain on the Sahara», he told reporters.

Pablo Iglesias also angered the Polisario when he did not congratulate Ghali on the creation of the movement on May 10, 1973, as he had ordered his comrades to avoid the 2020 edition of the FiSahara film festival initially scheduled from April 14 to 19 in the Tindouf camps, before its cancellation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

These changes have pushed pro-Polisario media to voice the separatist movement’s anger and describe the current situation as a «betrayal» of Iglesias that would have been comparable to that of former Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez. The latter, then secretary general of the PSOE, had delivered in 1976 and since the camps of Tindouf a speech in favor of the independence of the Sahara.

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