Western Sahara

February 27th, 1976

By the United Nations

1963: UN Special Committee on Decolonisation declares Western Sahara a “non-selfgoverning territory to be decolonised” in accordance with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 Dec. 1960.

December 1965: The UN General Assembly adopts its first resolution on Western Sahara, requesting Spain to decolonise the Territory (General Assembly resolution 2072 (XX) of 17 Dec. 1965).

December 1966: The UN General Assembly requests Spain to organise, under UN supervision, a referendum on self-determination (General Assembly resolution 2229 (XXI) of 20 Dec. 1966). The demand is repeated each year from 1967 to 1973.

29 April 1973: The Frente Para la Liberación de Saguia Al Hamra y Rio de Oro (POLISARIO) is founded in Zouerate (Mauritania) with the purpose of obtaining independence for Western Sahara.

10 May 1973: first military operation of POLISARIO against a Spanish garrison in Western Sahara.

December 1974: The Spanish census, a prerequisite for the self-determination referendum, registers 73, 497 inhabitants of Western Sahara.

May – June 1975: A delegation of the UN Decolonisation Committee visits the Territory, Morocco, Spain, Algeria and Mauritania.

October 1975: The Decolonization Committee issues a report requesting the UN General Assembly to enable the local population to choose their future in free and fair circumstances.

16 October 1975: The International Courts of Justice publishes its advisory opinion on the status of the Territory before colonization by Spain. “… the Court has not found legal ties of such nature as might affect the application of resolution 1514 (XV) in the decolonisation of Western Sahara and, in particular, of the principle of self-determination through the free and genuine expression of the will of the peoples of the Territory.”

6 November 1975: Morocco launches the “Green March” (Al Massira); some 350,000 Moroccans march a few kilometres across the border into the Territory of Western Sahara (Tah and Hagunia).

14 November 1975: Spain, Mauritania and Morocco sign the Madrid Accords. Spain agrees to cede administrative control of the Territory to Morocco (northern two-thirds) and Mauritania (southern third), after a transitional tripartite administration period. The Saharan population begins to leave the cities to the open desert inland.

28 November 1975: 67 of the 102 members of the djemaa (an assembly of notables appointed by the Spanish Government representing the Saharan tribes) dissolve the assembly in the so-called Proclamation of Guelta Zemmour.

11 December 1975: The first Moroccan troops arrive in El Aaiún, (now known as Laayoune). Fighting erupts between Frente POLISARIO and Moroccan forces.

20 December 1975: Mauritanian troops take over the cities of Tichla and La Güera (South of the Territory).

27-29 January 1976 – First battle of Amgala between Moroccan and POLISARIO forces. Rabat denounces the presence, besides POLISARIO, of Algerian units. Algeria denies the allegations.

26 February 1976: Spain officially withdraws from the Territory.

27 February 1976: POLISARIO proclaims the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in Bir Lahlou. In Morocco-controlled Laayoune, a newly constituted djemaa votes for the integration of the Territory into Morocco.

14 April 1976: Morocco and Mauritania divide the Territory. Mauritania receive the southern third (Dakhla region) and Morocco the northern two thirds (Laayoune, Boujdour and Smara regions).

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Western Sahara: “The Last Colony”