/poh li sahr"ee oh'/, n.an independence movement opposing Moroccan control of the Western Sahara, a former Spanish territory that Morocco annexed in stages beginning in 1976. Also called Polisario Front.[ < Sp (Frente) Po(pular para la) Li(beración de) Sa(gnia el-Hamra y) Rí(o de) O(ro) Popular Front for the Liberation of Sagnia El-Hamra and Río de Oro]
* * *officially Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el Hamra and Río de OroSahrawi political and military group.Initially an insurgent against Spanish control of Western Sahara, it turned to agitation against Morocco and Mauritania when the Spanish withdrew in 1976 and those two countries partitioned the country. Mauritania made peace with the group in 1979, whereupon Morocco annexed the whole territory. Polisario continued its resistance, mostly from bases in Algeria. In 1991 it agreed to a ceasefire and a referendum, which has been repeatedly postponed by Morocco, to determine the state's fate. See also Saharan Arab Democratic Republic.
* * *▪ political and military organization, North Africaabbreviation of Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el Hamra and Río de Oro, Spanish Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguia el Hamra y Río de Oropolitico-military organization striving to end Moroccan control of the former Spanish territory of Western Sahara, in northwestern Africa, and win independence for that region. Polisario is composed largely of the indigenous nomadic inhabitants of the Western Sahara region, the Saharawis. Polisario began as an insurgency (based in neighbouring Mauritania) against Spanish control of the Western Sahara. After Spain withdrew and Morocco and Mauritania partitioned Western Sahara between them in 1976, Polisario relocated to Algeria, which henceforth provided the organization with bases and military aid. Mauritania made peace with Polisario in 1979, but Morocco then unilaterally annexed Mauritania's portion of the Western Sahara. During the 1980s the Polisario guerrillas, numbering some 15,000 motorized and well-armed troops, harassed and raided Moroccan outposts and defenses in the Western Sahara. Polisario declined from the late 1980s, however, as its two main backers, Algeria and Libya, reduced their support in order to concentrate on their internal problems. A settlement plan in which a referendum would decide the status of the region—independence or union with Morocco—was concluded in 1991, but disagreements on the details delayed its implementation.
* * *