"Mechanical problems"

King Hassan II in an interview for the Italian TV RAI 1 talk about the UN settlement plan for Western Sahara: "I would like to say that the engine has broken down. I believe that the former UN Secretary-General was not mechanically-minded enough regarding the Saharan issue. I hope that the new UN Secretary-General is more mechanically-minded, so that the engine will start again".

James Baker's mission

UN Secretary-General has appointed former United States Secretary of State, James Baker III, to be his Personal Envoy to make a fresh assessment of the situation in Western Sahara. In a statement issued after the announcement of his appointment, Baker said: "I am pleased to do what I can to help resolve this issue, and will explore with the parties all viable options ... I will travel to the area next month for initial contacts with the parties involved."
Baker' mission would assess whether the U.N. plan could be implemented in its present form, whether adjustments acceptable to the two sides might be possible or whether other ways of resolving the conflict could be found.
Baker was secretary of state under President George Bush from 1989 to 1992 and helped rally the U.S.-led coalition that ejected Iraqi troops from Kuwait in 1991. He was secretary of the treasury from 1985 to 1989 under President Ronald Reagan and served as Reagan's White House chief of staff from 1981 to 1985. He is a senior partner in the law firm of Baker and Botts, with offices in Houston and Washington.

Letter from Bachir M. Sayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to H.E. Mr. James Baker, Houston

"I would like to express the complete willingness of the Polisario to cooperate, in a transparent and sincere manner, with your efforts aimed at breaking the peace plan's prolonged deadlock and converting the fragile cease-fire between the Sahrawi and Moroccan Armies into a just and lasting peace.
No one better than your Excellency knows the historic causes of this painful conflict and the principles and values at stake, not only for an innocent people, but also for the peace and stability of this highly sensitive region.
There is no doubt that your immense prestige, credibility and moral integrity are bearers of hope and optimism for the Sahrawi people just as they were yesterday for Kuwait, another country like Western Sahara, which has a powerful "brother" as its northern neighbour".

US support

The US Department of State gives it full support Baker's mission, which is qualified as "extremely difficult".

Security Council

The Security Council expressed disappointment at the lack of progress on the implementation of the Plan for the settlement of the question of Western Sahara, expressed strong support for the Secretary-General's efforts to overcome the current stalemate, urging the parties to cooperate fully with the Secretary- General's newly appointed Personal Envoy to the region.
In a statement, the President, Ambassador Wilosowicz of Poland said the Council concurred with the United Nations Secretary-General's assessment that it was essential to maintain the cease-fire, a breach of which could seriously threaten regional stability. "It believes that the presence of the MINURSO has been essential in helping the parties to maintain their commitment to the cease- fire," Ambassador Wilosowicz said. He stated that the Council was looking forward to receiving the Secretary-Generals assessment of the future tasks and configuration of MINURSO.

Comments of the Moroccan press

48 h. after the nomination of James Baker the Moroccan press unanimously wrote that Morocco will make no concessions. It will accept no other solution than the peace plan. It is afraid of other ways as direct negociations, or an international conference, because an internationalization of the conflict, considered as an internal Moroccan problem, is out of question.

Human Rights Committee of the UN , 53th session, Geneva, 10.03. - 18.04.1997
Under item 7 of the agenda, the Right to Selfdetermination, following NGOs made interventions about the W.S. conflict: Fraance LibertÈs (Fondation Danielle Mitterrand), Pax Christi International and CETIM (Centre Europe-Tiers Monde). They all denounced the lack of progress in of the implementation of the peace plan and asked the UN to work for the resumption of the negociations between the parties. The Algerian Representative appealed in the same sense.


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