Western Sahara dispute at turning point, Morocco tells UN

1 October 2007

The issue of Western Sahara is witnessing an “historical turning point,” the Foreign Minister of Morocco said today, referring to the Non-Self-Governing Territory as “Moroccan Sahara” and advocating a settlement based on an autonomy proposal put forward by the country’s Government.

The issue of Western Sahara is witnessing an “historical turning point,” the Foreign Minister of Morocco said today, referring to the Non-Self-Governing Territory as “Moroccan Sahara” and advocating a settlement based on an autonomy proposal put forward by the country’s Government.

Addressing the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate, Mohamed Benaïssa said the turning point “results from the dynamic created by the Moroccan Initiative on a Statute of Autonomy,” which he said “has opened promising perspectives for overcoming the stalemate this issue faces at the UN level.”

He said the initiative “offers the fundamental elements necessary for a realistic, applicable and final political solution to a regional dispute that hinders the construction of a strong and homogenous Maghreb, interacting with its geopolitical environment.”

It also “answers the call of the Security Council since 2004 about the need for finding a political solution to this dispute” and “is in conformity with international law.”

He said Morocco has taken part in negotiations in “good faith with a constructive attitude.”

Morocco is committed “to advance this process in order to reach a final solution to this dispute within the framework of its national sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as on the basis of the Autonomy Initiative as the ultimate objective of the negotiation process and as an open, flexible and indivisible offer.”

Earlier today, Algeria’s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly that his country hopes for an agreement between Morocco and the Polisario Front that would pave the way for the people of Western Sahara to decide on their future.

Mourad Medelci said Western Sahara is the “last case of decolonization in Africa where the people are still deprived of their right to self-determination enshrined in relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council.”

He said the international community had nourished hopes for a just and lasting solution, notably through the Security Council’s support in 2003 for the peace plan put forward by James Baker, the former Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General.

Algeria welcomed recent developments on the issue, including the adoption of Security Council resolution 1754, which underlined the need to achieve a just and comprehensive solution, Mr. Medelci said, voicing hope that negotiations could lead to an agreement that would allow the people of Western Sahara to pronounce themselves, freely and without constraints, through a self-determination referendum.

 

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