In-fighting grips Polisario-run Tindouf camps as separatist leader flies for medical treatment
The Tindouf camps, where thousands are held against their will by the Algeria-backed polisario militias, have once again been the scene of violent infighting between clans vying for power in an area where Algeria seems to have relegated all authority to militiamen.
As Polisario leader Brahim Ghali was flown to South Africa for medical treatment on board an Algerian presidential aircraft, an exchange of fire took place in the camps between his supporters and fighters loyal to defense minister Mohamed Lemine El Bouhali, according to the well-informed Al Ahdath Al Maghribia newspaper.
Tension has been simmering in the camps since a Polisario-controlled court sentenced the son of Bouhali to 15 years in prison.
Mohamed Lemine Bouhali called on his clan, tribe and loyal fighters to protest peacefully before ordering them to take arms against militiamen loyal to Brahim Ghali.
The infighting over the control over corruption and embezzlement as well as trafficking has created rifts between Polisario leaders who have been trading in the suffering of thousands of Sahrawis in the full sight of their host and mentor Algeria.
With the recurring hospitalizations abroad of Brahim Ghali, alias Benbatouch to borrow the fake name he used while in Spain, various warlords in the Tindouf camps are vying to succeed him. Most of them seek to maximize gains from corruption and banditry before their sponsor Algeria assigns a new separatist leader to continue its failed proxy war against Morocco, while holding thousands hostage in the camps prey to inhumane living conditions.
Several rights watchdogs have on multiple occasions alerted to the adversity faced by the Sahraouis in Tindouf.
The EU has reduced the amount of humanitarian aid it sends to Tindouf camps after a report in 2008 accused Algeria and the Polisario of embezzlement.