14 December 1994
1. In the report I submitted to the Security Council on 5 November 1994
(S/1994/1257) on progress made by the United Nations Mission for the
Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) in the process of identification and
registration of potential voters, I stated that I would report further to the
Council after the consultations I intended to hold during my visit to the
Mission area in November.
2. In a statement by the President of the Security Council (S/PRST/1994/67)
following consideration of my report, the Council, inter alia, welcomed my
decision to visit the region and expressed the hope that, on that occasion, I
would be able to report significant progress towards the implementation of
the settlement plan and the holding of the referendum.
II. CONSULTATIONS IN THE MISSION AREA
3. I visited the Mission area from 25 to 29 November 1994. I was
accompanied throughout the visit by Mr. Erik Jensen, my Deputy Special
Representative for Western Sahara. At Algiers, I was received by the State
President, Mr. Liamine Zeroual. I also held meetings with Mr. Abdelkader
Bensalah, President of the National Transition Council; Mr. Mokdad Sifi, Head
of Government; Mr. Mohamed Salah Dembri, Minister for Foreign Affairs; the
Permanent Representative of Algeria to the United Nations, Mr. Ramtane
Lamamra; and other senior officials of the Algerian Government.
4. At all my meetings in Algiers, I stressed the urgency of reaching an
early settlement and sought Algeria's continued cooperation. At every level,
the Algerian authorities reassured me of their firm support for the
activities of the United Nations in Western Sahara and reaffirmed their
preparedness to provide all necessary assistance in my efforts. They
stressed, in particular, the need for the parties to adhere strictly to the
provisions of the settlement plan, which they considered essential for the
credibility of the referendum.
94-50062 (E) 151294 /...
5. At Smara refugee camp near Tindouf, which I visited on 27 November, I met
with Mr. Mohamed Abdelaziz, Secretary-General of the Frente Popular para la
Liberacion de Saguia El-Hamra y de Rio de Oro (Frente POLISARIO),
Mr. Bachir Mustapha Sayed, Deputy Secretary-General of the Frente POLISARIO
and its Coordinator with MINURSO, Mr. Bukhari Ahmed, the representative of
the Frente POLISARIO in New York, and other senior POLISARIO officials.
Issues discussed included the process leading to the referendum; the Security
Council's position on this issue; increasing the number of identification
centres and personnel; various other aspects of MINURSO's work; and the
cooperation of both parties with my Deputy Special Representative. The
POLISARIO leaders expressed concern about certain developments since the
beginning of the identification and registration process that they viewed as
impediments to the smooth implementation of the settlement plan and the
conduct of a free, fair and impartial referendum.
6. They emphasized that, despite those impediments and the reservation they
had about some of the criteria for eligibility to participate in the
referendum, they had steadfastly maintained their cooperation with MINURSO
and the Deputy Special Representative. They urged the United Nations to
address the issues of concern in order to facilitate the implementation of
the plan. They raised also the question of direct talks with the other party
and, in this connection, reiterated their proposal for a conference in which,
in addition to the parties, certain members of the Security Council and some
other interested countries would participate. Such a conference would, in
their view, provide a forum and an opportunity for the parties to engage in
direct dialogue on outstanding matters, including the post-referendum period.
Furthermore, the Frente POLISARIO leaders believed that that would be in line
with the provisions of General Assembly resolutions that have consistently
called for direct talks between the two parties in order to create an
atmosphere conducive to the speedy and effective implementation of the
settlement plan. They indicated, however, that, while they continued to
believe that direct dialogue would be useful, they would not make it a
prerequisite for the continuation of the peace process in conformity with the
7. Addressing the Frente POLISARIO'S main concern - the large number of
application forms submitted at the last minute - I pointed out that the
Identification Commission was an independent body whose members, I was
confident, would carry out their mandate with impartiality, fairness and
integrity. I urged the Frente POLISARIO leaders to continue to cooperate
with my Deputy Special Representative and MINURSO so as to facilitate rapid
progress in the implementation of the plan. I made it clear, however, that,
ultimately, the continued involvement of the United Nations would depend on
the demonstrated political will of the parties.
8. While insisting that all necessary measures should be taken to guarantee
the credibility of the referendum, Mr. Abdelaziz reiterated his full
commitment to the settlement plan and pledged his continuing cooperation with
MINURSO and my Deputy Special Representative. We both agreed that the
beginning of identification and registration was a major step towards the
full implementation of the plan and that our efforts in the months ahead
should focus on the measures necessary to accelerate very significantly the
pace of this process.
9. At Rabat, where I arrived after a visit to the headquarters of MINURSO at
Laayoune, I was received by His Majesty King Hassan II of Morocco. I also
held meetings with the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Mr. Abdelatif Filali; the Minister of the Interior and Information,
Mr. Driss Basri; the Permanent Representative of Morocco to the United
Nations, Mr. Ahmed Snoussi, and other senior officials of the Government of
Morocco. At these meetings, a wide range of issues relating to the
implementation of the settlement plan were discussed. These included the
referendum; progress achieved so far in identification and registration and
measures required to accelerate the pace of the process; the cooperation of
both parties with MINURSO and my Deputy Special Representative; and the
position and expectations of the Security Council regarding the process
leading to the holding of the referendum.
10. I was reassured that Morocco remained fully committed to the settlement
plan and would continue to provide all assistance required for my efforts to
implement the plan. The Moroccan authorities further pledged continued
support for the activities of MINURSO and the efforts of my Deputy Special
Representative. They also considered that the beginning of the
identification and registration process was a very important step despite the
delays the process had experienced, and promised to cooperate actively with
my Deputy Special Representative with a view to achieving its successful
completion within a reasonable time-frame.
11. In my report to the Security Council of 5 November, I informed the
Council of my intention to send a technical team to MINURSO to reassess the
logistic and other requirements for the possible full deployment of the
Mission at full strength. The team visited MINURSO from 10 to 14 November
and worked closely with the Mission's staff in updating the military,
logistic, civilian personnel and other requirements for the possible full
deployment of the Mission. The technical team identified one of the major
bottlenecks as being the lack of suitable accommodation throughout the
Mission area for MINURSO personnel.
12. Given the work still to be completed in the identification of potential
voters, the technical team found that it was as yet premature to make final
arrangements with regard to the logistic and other resources required for the
deployment of MINURSO at full strength. The team agreed that MINURSO should
focus on finding means to speed up the process of identifying and registering
potential voters and, in this connection, strongly supported the idea of
expanding the Identification Commission.
13. The above account of my consultations with the parties indicates that,
despite the difficulties encountered and the delays experienced over the past
few months, the political will exists to move the process forward. Both
parties recognize the major step that the beginning of the identification and
registration process has marked. The identification and registration process
is all the more important because, unless it is carried out in a thorough and
consistent manner and to the reasonable satisfaction of the two parties in
terms of its fairness and impartiality, any dispute that resulted would be
likely to affect the implementation of the other aspects of the plan and
could prejudice the credibility of the referendum. It is therefore essential
that all necessary measures be taken not only to accelerate the pace of the
process but also to ensure that it is carried out in the appropriate manner.
14. My visit to the identification and registration centre near MINURSO
headquarters in Laayoune has enabled me to see how complex and time-consuming
the identification and registration process has to be in order to overcome
objections, resolve doubts and deliver a convincing and credible outcome.
15. Further complicating matters in a territory of such vast size are the
logistical problems of ensuring the presence at all identification and
registration centres of observers of both parties and of the Organization of
African Unity (OAU), as well as the tribal leaders who have a key role in
identification and registration. The fact that in the refugee camps as well
as in the territory itself members of the same tribal group are widely
dispersed in several different places poses a further difficulty.
16. It is hoped that, with the promised cooperation of the parties and using
MINURSO's own resources, all the data relating to the application forms will
be available in computerized form by the end of this year. That and the
experience gained to date by the identification and registration teams augurs
well for the next stage of the process.
17. However, given the large number of applications now received, the only
way to complete identification and registration in a reasonable time would be
through a major reinforcement of personnel and other resources. My Deputy
Special Representative has indicated that the four identification and
registration teams working at Laayoune and Tindouf (two at each centre) have
achieved a weekly output of 1,000 potential voters interviewed and identified
and that the rate of output is steadily increasing. After his return to
Laayoune, my Deputy Special Representative was able to reach final agreement
with the Moroccan authorities on the opening of a new centre in Boujdour.
Accordingly, identification began in Boujdour on 2 December and, on 5
December, a further centre near Tindouf became operational. It is estimated,
however, that the completion of the work within a reasonable time-frame will
require an estimated 25 teams working simultaneously at an increased number
of identification and registration centres. As indicated in my previous
report (S/1994/1257), consultations are already being held with the parties
regarding the location, equipping and opening of additional centres.
18. MINURSO has developed a plan for the establishment of six additional
centres (each to include two identification and registration teams) and five
mobile identification and registration teams. Preliminary cost estimates for
the further expansion of the Identification Commission are contained in a
separate addendum to the present report.
19. Each identification centre consists of six Professionals, namely, three
identification commission members (one of whom is the team leader), two
Arabic-speaking registration officers and one systems analyst. The mobile
identification teams consist of one identification commission member, one
Arabic-speaking registration officer and one systems analyst. Thus, a total
number of 51 additional Professional staff will be required to expand the
identification commission as recommended. The increase in the number of
identification centres will require a commensurate increase in the number of
administrative support staff both at the centres and at MINURSO headquarters.
These Professionals will be assisted by a commensurate increase in the number
of international and local General Service staff. Approximately 13 civilian
police are required to provide security and assist with the identification
activities at each centre, and 4 civilian police are required for each mobile
team. As the present strength of the civilian police component is 55, an
additional 105 civilian police will be required, including 10 officers at the
civilian police headquarters.
20. The increase in the number of identification centres will also
necessitate an increase in the number of observers from OAU, and I urge that
organization to continue to make every effort to deploy the observers
necessary to facilitate the identification process.
21. It is my hope that, by 31 March 1995, progress achieved in the
identification and registration process will reach a level that will enable
me to recommend 1 June 1995 as the date (D-day) for the start of the
transitional period. As of 1 June 1995, in accordance with the settlement
plan, the combatants of the two sides would be confined to designated
locations and, as soon as possible after this date, prisoners-of-war would be
exchanged, amnesties would be proclaimed for political prisoners and
detainees and for returnees and all political prisoners or detainees would be
released. Not later than mid-August 1995 (D + 11 weeks), the reduction of
Moroccan forces present in the Territory would be completed and all laws or
measures that could obstruct the conduct of a free and fair referendum would
22. In mid-August, on the assumption that the Security Council had approved
the expansion of MINURSO as proposed in paragraphs 17 to 19 above, the
identification and registration of voters should be completed and the final
list of voters published. The repatriation programme should be completed by
the end of September (D + 17). The latter date would coincide with the start
of the referendum campaign in time to permit the referendum to take place in
October 1995 (D + 20). The draft code of conduct for the referendum campaign
has already been completed and forwarded to the parties for their comments.
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