The umpteenth Polisario congress is finally over. No less than sixteen editions, almost half a century, have already enlightened the everlasting leaders who repeat this event every three years as if it were 'groundhog day'. Half a century for once again no substantial change, half a wasted century that aggravates an increasingly unsustainable situation at all levels, especially the humanitarian one.
Although they tried to project a certain aura of openness to the outside world, the truth is that a simple glance at the outcome of the event shows that everything remains the same. It was the classic 'change everything so that nothing changes', only in this case it was a very small 'everything', almost minuscule. The public staging of an alleged internal struggle for the leadership of the group was, after all, nothing more than a showboating manoeuvre to project a kind of internal democracy. Nothing could be further from the truth, it was just smoke and mirrors. Both Bachir Mustafa Sayed and Brahim Ghali are, to use the expression, the same dogs with different collars. Their careers are clear to see.
The only thing that changed was the duration of the event. Normally these congresses used to be long, but this time all records were broken. To give you an idea, during the duration of this marathon congress, half of the Olympic Games, the Pamplona fiestas of San Fermín or the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II of England, for example, could have been held. An indigestible conclave which, as was to be expected, could not miss the usual classics, foreign guests from Spain's extreme left, as well as from its peripheral nationalism or independence movements, to give the event a sort of "international" dimension. A week with expenses paid, eating good lamb and drinking delicious tea, just a few metres away from starving children with whom to share a selfie to upload it to the networks. Children who are denied this possibility only because the ideological dogma and political vision of these guests must take precedence over the humanitarian drama. They do not have to suffer it on a daily basis.
In the Polisario, the clock of history stopped a long time ago, within this perpetual 'game of musical chairs' when it comes to taking turns in the supposedly elected positions, always by the same people. These outdated leaders, who have been in office for several decades and who continue to be resistant to change. The reality is that this insane requirement of having participated in war actions prior to 1991 in order to hold leadership positions within the Polisario disqualifies any possibility of change or openness towards a younger leadership class that overcomes this generational divide and opts for 21st century solutions to a problem that dates back to the depths of the 20th century.
This does not seem likely to change, even with "their" current war they do not seem to contemplate it. A rule that also shields their comfortable lives and those of their families from a population full of shortages and hardships that witnesses, time and again with resignation, the permanent 'bunkerisation' of a leadership that is increasingly comfortable in positions of privilege and the pecuniary benefits that this entails.
Although images of ballot boxes being used by smiling voters have been circulating these days, or even boasting of having ventured into the field of demoscopes by publishing the results of pre-election polls between Ghali and Mustafa Sayed, the result was already decided and once again Ghali was going to 'win the Bulgarian way'. They are a leadership in the style of Todor Zhivkov, that Secretary General of the Bulgarian Communist Party for no less than 35 years, whose successive suspicious re-elections led to the coining of the aforementioned expression.
Another fact that reinforces this is the list of the 27 members of the political leadership elected at the congress. Just a glance at the names and the smell of stale begins to emanate. Bucharaya Beyun, Mohamed Luali Akeik, Abdelakader Taleb Omar, Jira Bulahi, and so on and so forth.
The long and continuing failure of the group's armed strategy, Ghali's re-election, together with the lack of renewal of its structures and organs of power, despite the fact that internal dissidence and opposition is growing, represents a flight forward that does not augur change for the sake of a short-term solution. A dissident sector that is crying out for a way out of the eternal journey to nowhere in which they have been immersed for half a century, and for new ways to be explored to put an end to the suffering of a population that is cantoned and abandoned sine die in the camps by its ruling class, at the time Ghali's gang. A new path that must start from the proposal for autonomy that Morocco has been proposing for more than fifteen years.
Time is passing and the only solutions offered by the Polisario are warlike. In fact, the congress was held under the slogan "to unite ranks and join forces to continue the great battle for independence", words are superfluous. Exacerbated propaganda, empty slogans, false hopes, deception and, above all, war. That can only be the prelude to final defeat. After all, the decisions always depended on Algiers, not on these congresses. The rest is vaudeville theatre or worse, science fiction.