The circulation of intimate photos of Mrs Olaya Saadi, spouse of Polisario’s opponent Fadel Breika, in detention since last June, triggered a crisis within the separatist front’s leadership, torn apart between those who call for an investigation in the scandal and those who oppose such a move.
The indignation and anger of Sahrawi tribes, particularly Mrs Olaya Saâdi’s Rguibat-Souaad tribe, have shaken the Polisario headquarters in Rabouni camp.
The photos were taken from Breika’s mobile phone, which was confiscated by the security services during his arrest in June, and leaked to Pro-Polisario news outlet “Sawt al Watan” which displayed them.
Sources from the Tindouf camps told le360 news outlet that the issue of the leaked pictures has caused “a huge rift within the front’s leadership.” While some say they are appalled by the defamation campaign conducted against a Sahrawi woman by executives accustomed to resorting to demeaning methods to settle scores with their opponents, others call for “reinforcing the authority of the Sahrawi state” against its adversaries, “who are in the pay of the enemy,” the sources from Tindouf say.
The so-called Information Minister Sidi Ahmed El Batal is among those backing the defamation move. He told Sahrawi notables in the camps that he is firmly opposed to opening an investigation on this case. According to the sources quoted by le360, he threatened his rivals to expose in public all their “dirty secrets” from the time when they officiated as members of the pseudo- executive committee of the polisario (currently called national secretariat), and their involvement in the assassination, detention and torture of many Sahrawis.
According to the sources, he threatened to obstruct the holding of the Poliosario’s next “Congress”, in case the commission of inquiry announced by the Front undertakes any action, and warned that “the developments related to this case constitute a time bomb and signal the advent of a civil war between the Tindouf camps Sahrawis.”
El Batal’s staunch opposition to an investigation is seen by many as an evidence that he is the mastermind of the pictures’ leaking, in connivance with Omar Boulssan (so-called SG of the Information Ministry) and Mohammed Salem Laabid (director of SADR-TV).
Meanwhile, the editors of “Sawt al Watan.net”, which published Olaya Saâdi’s pictures, resorted to blackmail. They claimed to have other “compromising” videos of Olaya Saâdi, and threatened to broadcast them, in case the people who have physically assaulted the so-called “speaker of the Saharawi parliament” would not apologize. They alleged that “criminals and drug traffickers” attacked Sahrawi personalities although the Polisario Front made apologies for the pictures case and although the outlet deleted them.
The Tindouf camps populations staged several demonstrations and sit-ins to denounce the despicable and unacceptable privacy violation act in a Sahrawi society very attached to family honor and respect for women.
Fadel Breika, along with two other activists, Moulay Aba Bouzid, and Mahmoud Zidane, were arrested in June for participating in peaceful protests against Polisario’s human rights violations in the Tindouf camps and are in prison since then.
No formal charges were brought against them and no legal process was initiated.
The families of the activists and human rights watchdogs continue to protest these unlawful arrests and detentions.