Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (S.A.D.R)


Date: September 12, 2000



Memorandum of the Polisario Front on the question of Western Sahara


1. A year has elapsed since the latest United Nations General Assembly debate on the question of Western Sahara resulting in the adoption of Resolution 54/87 by which it reaffirms the need that this problem be resolved through the holding of a referendum on self-determination.

2. The carrying out of the Settlement plan by the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) conveys on the eve of this 55th session an uncertain balance sheet. In fact, while reporting some exceptional progress, the process is truly facing new challenges and major dangers.

3. In the beginning of the year 2000, the MINURSO completed the identification of some 198 000 applicants to the referendum on self-determination. This laborious procedure, which started in 1994, constitutes the corner stone of the process as a whole, since then led resolutely by the Identification commission of the MINURSO. In February 2000, the United Nations published a provisional list of 86 349 voters.

4. Nonetheless, the expansionist attitude of Morocco once more led the settlement plan into a standoff, although the brilliant progress just accomplished should have brought closer the prospect of the referendum on self-determination. Morocco, in fact, took advantage of the existing resources to inundate the Identification Commission with thousands of new requests filed at the instigation of Morocco by its own citizens, which have been rejected during the identification process since they did not comply with the criteria requiring their belonging to the Territory. So, for each person rejected, an appeal was routinely presented by Morocco, a deluge which put the Commission before an impressive number of 135 000 new appeals among which 95% have no legal basis neither a concrete justification.

5. This conduct, which tends to directly question the laborious work of the Identification commission often in during difficult conditions, is a contempt of the efforts of the International community, which has put in motion important human and materiel resources to this end. By acting in this manner, Morocco pays only lip-services to the repeated calls of the Secretary-General in his many reports to the Security Council, such as in Resolutions 1238 (1999) and 1263 (1999), so that the appeal process is not transformed into a another identification exercise.

6. With regard to the preparation of the repatriation of the Sahrawi Refugees, we are faced basically with the same scenario: each time a progress is realized Morocco erects new obstacles on the way of the Settlement process. The UNHCR has in fact achieved its pre-registration of the refugees called upon to take part in the referendum and of their close families, in conformity with the Settlement Plan and with Security Council resolutions. This has amounted to 107 149 refugees, which in their majority have, for security reasons, expressed concern to the UNHCR and their desire to be repatriated into the Territory of Western Sahara but away from the area occupied by Morocco.

7. The Kingdom of Morocco sought to politicize the repatriation of the refugees when translating a freely expressed repatriation as a new obstacle. In doing so, Morocco did not hesitate to use all kind of pressure so that the United Nations compels the refugees to be transferred into areas under Morocco's occupation, obviously in contradiction with the basic principles of international law and with the practices established by the UNHCR.

8. In sum whether at the level of the work of the identification or that of the preparatory process for the return of the refugees, Morocco endlessly multiplies its dilatory obstacles and maneuvers. Its undisclosed goal is to undermine the referendum process or at least delay its holding. As a result of this attitude, the civilian component of the MINURSO is, since the end of the identification of the contested tribes in December 1999, to its most reduced form.

9. In the face of this situation, unfortunately neither the Secretary-General nor the Security Council has kept up with the required determination to bring Morocco to abide by its commitments and to cooperate faithfully with MINURSO.

10. Furthermore, since December 1999, the report of the UN Secretary-General is making rather a negative assessment of the implementation of the Settlement Plan in Western Sahara, putting more emphasis on the difficulties it is facing or what it may meet in the future. In the same line of thoughts, the many progresses achieved in the process are either unreported or minimized. The three latest reports to the Security Council emanating from the UN Secretariat have kept with this new line. In July, it went further to suggest the search of the alternative way to the Settlement of the conflict of Western Sahara out of the framework of the Settlement plan and of the referendum on self-determination.

11. At the level of the Security Council, the attempts to abandon the Settlement Plan are confirmed also in each new resolution since December 1999. Two influential delegations of the Security Council attempted during this period to make that the Security Council condones their draft to abandon the referendum process. They favored a peculiar so-called political solution negotiated directly between Morocco and the Polisario Front, that will ignores the right to self-determination of the Sahrawi people. While not winning the consent of the Security Council, these attempts did lead to a division amongst its members on this central matter.

12. It is therefore legitimate to ask about the real reasons, behind these concerted attempts, and which, sometimes, appear in the light of the day. Obviously, Morocco, doubting seriously the result of the referendum, wants henceforth to depart from this process?

13. Or is it an effort to retain the present status quo, not ignoring the fact that the conflict cannot be resolved in the absence of a credible peace process? In both cases, the desire of the occupying power seems to prevail in the eye of the perpetrators of these attempts is to alter the legal framework of the solution.

14. The return this year of Mr. James Baker to the scene translated into a visit to the region in April during which he evaluated with the parties the situation in the light of the numerous appeals filed by Morocco and which created the present impasse. The two direct meetings between Morocco and the Polisario Front, under the auspices of the personal envoy of the Secretary-General, held in London in May and July 2000 have not produced any progress. They have been nevertheless instrumental in comforting the position held by Rabat aimed at blocking the referendum process and avoid the verdict of the ballot boxes, at all cost.

15. To escape at a minimum cost the referendum, Morocco satisfied itself by this new approach promoted at the level of the UN Secretariat and some members of the Security Council. The publication of the provisional list of voters does not leave any doubt as to the outcome of the vote in favor of independence in the referendum. The attitude of certain influential members of the Security Council does unfortunately encourage Morocco to persevere in obstructing and blockading the referendum. In Geneva, during the direct technical discussions initiated by the personal Envoy of the Secretary-General in July 2000, the Moroccan delegation confirmed this attitude and refused to engage in any of the points enlisted in the agenda of the meeting.

16. As to the Polisario Front, it has all along these consultations and direct discussions reiterated its firm attachment to the Settlement Plan and to the holding of a referendum on self-determination as the only just and lasting solution to the conflict of Western Sahara. Any other approach, which ignores the inalienable right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination to choose freely their destiny, is but a void speculation doomed to failure and which will not receive any backing from our side.

17. The impasse in the settlement plan which continued for over a dozen years in Western Sahara, is facing in this millennium to a new challenges, and which could even put into question the very foundations for which it has been created to serve. The United Nations must be proud of the unprecedented progress realized in this process during the elapsed period, whether through the maintaining of the cease-fire in effect since September 6, 1991, the identification of the voters or the preparation of the repatriation of the refugees. These progress and accomplishments must be a new motive of encouragement for the United Nations to go forward and not to be intimidated by the dilatory maneuvers of Morocco, whose intentions to obstruct are now crystal clear. The success of the United Nations in the decolonization of East Timor is a landmark to the ability of the international organization to meet the challenge and to make the international legality prevail and to ensure that the right of peoples to triumph.

18. The mandate conferred to the UN General Assembly in order to find a solution to the Western Sahara conflict solemnly reiterates the decolonization nature of this question as well as the need to hold a referendum on self-determination in conformity with resolution 1514 (XV) of December 1960.

19. The International Community cannot allow the decolonization process in this latest colonial enclave in Africa to be diverted as a result of bias analysis serving but the desiderata of the occupying power or by temporal interest of certain powers. At stake is the credibility of the United Nations that has so much put in place for this process, and which is condemned to succeed.
The General Assembly must confirm during this fifty-fifth session its commitment to its relevant resolutions and decisions, through its resolve to go forward with the organization of a free and impartial referendum, under the control of the international community, for the people of Western Sahara.

September 2000.