Uali Mustafa Sayed, (Bir Lehlu 1948 – Mauritania 1976) was a young Saharawi revolutionary and nationalist leader. Founder of the Polisario Front in 1973 and elected general secretary during the party’s second congress, held a year later.
El Uali was born in 1948, somewhere in the hammada (desert) . This young man from a large, nomadic family grew up in an environment always on the move, surrounded by camel cattle and in constant search for raindrops.
He began his university life at the Faculty of Law at Mohamed V University of Rabat. There he met his friend Mohammed Lamine and met other members of the Saharawi diaspora, immersing himself in the revolutionary atmosphere. He became an activist for the Saharawi cause, influenced to a great extent by the bloody events that took place in Zemla during the summer of 1970. From that moment on, he began his struggle for Western Sahara.
In 1971, El Uali and two other friends took a trip that took them to El-Aiún to learn firsthand about the political situation. A year later, already in Tan-Tan, he was arrested, imprisoned and tortured, on two occasions, after having carried out several demonstrations. That same year, he dropped out of university to devote himself entirely to politics, under a premise: “Morocco would never support a free Sahara.”
He proclaimed the formation of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) on February 27, 1976, months before his death.
«Once it is verified that colonialism wants to maintain its dominion over our Arab people, trying to annihilate it through ignorance, misery, (…). Faced with the failure of all the peaceful methods used, (…) the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia El Hamra and Río de Oro was born as a unique expression of the masses, who opt for revolutionary violence and armed struggle as a means, to that the Saharawi, Arab and African peoples may enjoy their complete freedom and face the maneuvers of Spanish colonialism »
He died in 1976 at age 28 as general secretary of the Polisario Front, covering the withdrawal of his men after the offensive against Nouakchott.
El Uali is considered a martyr (shahīd) and a national hero by the Saharawi people. Every 9th of June, Martyrs’ Day is commemorated, a holiday instituted by SADR and in which the memory of all the Saharawis who died in the war for independence is honored.