Faux-pas: Macron’s Candidate in the 9th Legislative District – Which Covers Morocco — Is Pro-Polisario

Pro-independence Polisario Front rebel soldiers are seen during a military parade in the Western Sahara village of Tifariti, Sunday Feb. 27, 2011 to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the RASD (Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic). After Spanish colonizers left Western Sahara in 1975, Morocco and Mauritania went to war over it. By 1979, Mauritania had pulled out and Morocco had taken over. But fighting continued between 15,000 Saharaui’s Polisario guerrillas and Morocco’s U.S. equipped army. A U.N. negotiated truce in 1991 called for a referendum on the region’s future, but that vote never happened.
Arturo Rodríguez

Moroccan supporters of Emanuel Macron’s En Marche! party (its official name is now La République en marche!) said they would not support the party’s candidate in the legislative election for the French parliament. The first round of the legislative will be held 11 June, and the second round on 18 June.

There are 577 seats in the French National Assembly, each representing a district in France, its territories, or former colonies. Eleven of the districts are in former colonies – and the 9th district ( district 9ème circonscription) is for French citizens living in Morocco and other countries in West Africa.

Last Thursday, LREM unveiled a list of its 428 candidates for the 11 June first round (Macron promised that the party would have a candidate stand in each of the district, and party officials are working feverishly to fulfill his promise).

In what political analysts regard is a faux-pas, LREM chose Leila Aichi as its candidate for the 9th district. Aichi, a 46-years old French-Algerian lawyer, represents the centrist Democratic Movement (MoDem) party in the French Senate. Francois Bayrou, the leader of the party, was an early supporter of Macron, and is the leading candidate for the prime minister position.

Aichi was a member of the Green Party, but joined the MoDems two years ago.

Challenge.ma reports that the leadership of En Marche! in Morocco announced Saturday that they would urge French citizens in Morocco, who are eligible to vote in the 9th district, not to vote for Aichi because of her support for the Polisario movement, which has been fighting Morocco for the last thirty over what they regard as Morocco’s illegal occupation of the Western Sahara.

The Polisario have been supported by Algeria.

Political analyst say it was a mistake to nominate a candidate of Algerian ancestry to represent the 9th district – especially one who has been vocal in her support of the Polisario.

MWM reports that during a colloquium on the situation in the Sahara, held at the Palais du Luxembourg in January 2013, Aichi denounced “the systematic alignment of France with the Moroccan policy of the Sahara.” L’economiste.

French newspapers report that choosing Aichi was an effort by Macron’s way to minimize growing tensions with Bayrou, who was described as “furious” over the small low number of MoDem representatives in the list of 428 En Marche! submitted Thursday.

Moroccan media have described it as a “big strategic error” on the part of the new president.

– Ben Frankel

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