Brahim Ghali is a politician and military officer who is the incumbent president of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). He is also the former SADR ambassador to Algeria and Spain.
He has been a key figure in the fight for self rule for the people of Sahrawi from Morocco. SADR claims the territory to Western Sahara. Morocco has asserted claim over the territory alongside Mauritius. SADR was once a colony of Spain.
Ghali was instrumental in the United Nations (UN) peace mission in Western Sahara.
On Tuesday, September 13, 2022, the SADR leader was among the VVIPs that attended the inauguration of President William Ruto at the Kasarani Stadium.
Here is his story as narrated by WoK.
Ghali was born on September 16, 1949. The 71-year-old Ghali joined Spain’s Nomadic troops in the late 1960s and was deployed to Smara for administrative work.
Ghali later held several meetings with Mohamed Bassiri and other Sahrawi politicians and they founded AOLS in 1969, with him as its secretary . On June 16, 1970 he participated in the AOLS demonstration in El Aaiun, which would later be known as the Zemla Intifada.
The SADR president was detained by Spanish soldiers that same night. He was sentenced to one year in prison for his political activities. He was freed in 1971 but was briefly detained again in 1972 for taking part in demonstrations.
Ghali co-founded the Polisario Front in 1973 and was elected to serve as its first General Secretary of the constitutive congress. He led the El Khanga raid, the front a first military action, alongside El Uali Mustapha Sayed. They overran a desert post of the Spanish Army, and seized weapons and equipment.
In 1974, El Uali was elected as the new Polisario General Secretary whereas Ghali was selected to command the Sahrawi People’s Liberation Army, the front’s military wing.
Ghali together with El Uali, and Mahfoud Ali Beiba met General Federico Gómez de Salazar, the Spanish governor of the territory on October 22, 1975, the first official encounter between representatives of the Spanish government and the Polisario. Negotiations broke off shortly thereafter, and Ghali skipper another meeting with Gómez de Salazar prompting the Spanish government declared a curfew on El Aaiun.
Ghali became the defense minister of the first government of SADR on March 4, 1976. He served in the role until 1989 when he was chosen as Commander-in-chief of the Second Military Region.
Ghali was elected as the president and Secretary General of SADR during an election held on July 9, 2016, in the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf. He suvceeded longtime leader Mohamed Abdelaziz, who passed away on May 31, 2016.
Ghali paid a presidential visit to the Nigerian President, President Mohammadu Buhari on Thursday, June 13, 2019, at the villa in Abuja, Nigeria.
Ghali was accused of alleged rape and sexual abuse of Khadijatou Mahmoud Mohamed Zoubeir in. 2013. In addition, the ASADEDH (Spanish: Asociación Saharaui para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos) filed a lawsuit against him in Spain for alleged torture.
However, Spanish outfit came under sharp criticism since its chairman, Ramdane Messaoud, is a member of the Moroccan Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs.
Provisionally dismissed, the lawsuits were reopened after Ghali visited Spain to recover from health complications resulting from the COVID-19 virus. On May 19, 2021, the Spanish Audiencia Nacional summoned him to testify as a defendant in the case presented by the ASADEDH and Fadel Breica. Ghali testified via videoconference on June 1, 2021, from the Hospital San Millán-San Pedro in Logroño where he was undergoing treatment. Judge Santiago Pedraz ruled that sufficient evidence had not been provided in the case, linking Ghali to the said crimes.
Ghali left Spain for Algeria on 2 June 2021, and continued with his recovery at the Ain El Naaja military hospital in Algiers, where he was visited by Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune
Visit to Kenya
Ghali’s presence at President Ruto’s Inauguration appears to have raffled some feathers, prompting a meeting between President Ruto and Morocco.
After holding talks and receiving congratulatory messages from his Majesty King Mohammed I of Morocco, President Ruto revoked Kenya’s recognition of SADR as an independent state.
The newly elected president assured Morocco he will initiate steps to wind down the entity’s presence in Nairobi.
“Kenya rescinds its recognition of the SADR and initiates steps to wind down the entity’s presence in the country,” he said.
“Kenya supports the United Nations framework as the exclusive mechanism to find a lasting solution to the dispute over Western Sahara,” Ruto added.