SAVING REFERENDUM BEFORE IT IS TO LATE
MOROCCO FUELLING THE FIRE - FRUSTRATION CAN NOT BE THE REAL FEELING OF THE SAHARAWI PEOPLE
Yahiaoui Lamine, Chief-representative of the Polisario Front, Nordic Countries
On the 31th October the mandate MINURSO will expire, no one know what will be the future of this mission?
Shame on UN, after 50 years of its existence to be unable to solve a simple decolonisation matter which has been in its agenda since sixties, equally the eagerness of not upsetting the new King of Morocco, made the public opinion believe that the international community is powerless to save peace and stability in the region of North-West of Africa. Which is on the brink of war.
It is unacceptable that there is people in 2000 which has not exercised its right of self-determination. A few days ago Morocco tried in vain to take it from decolonisation questions. The Western Sahara is a decolonization problem which falls under the implementation of 1514 UN General Assembly Resolution. All resolutions adopted since 1965 by the UN General Assembly and the Organization of African Unity have steadily called for the decolonization of the territory and reaffirmed the inalienable right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and to independence. This doctrine has only been confirmed by the verdict of the international Court of Justice (October 16, 1975). Now it is a pity that UN in its 50 years of its existence could not yet been able to deliver what the Saharawi people expected from it .
The disregard of the fundamental principle of UN has led to a vigorous armed conflict between the Kingdom of Morocco and the POLISARIO Front, which lasted more than a decade and half .
The UN Settlement Plan for Western Sahara, accepted by the two parties to the conflict and adopted by the Security Council in Resolution 658/1990; 690/1991, has certainly silenced the guns but the conflict remains so long that the purpose of the plan, i.e. the organization of a free and fair referendum on self-determination, free from any administrative or military constraints, has not been achieved.
Since its adoption, the Settlement Plan has known a laborious and patient implementation, but never diverted from its natural course. Thanks to the commitment, the determination and the perseverance of the United Nations, and to the cooperation of the two parties to certain degree, the obstructions encountered, regardless to whom was attributed to, have always been overcome.
Following the election of Mr Kofi Annan as Secretary General of the United Nations and the appointment in 1997 of Mr James Baker III, as his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, the United Nations increased their efforts to speed up the implementation of the Settlement Plan, given that both the POLISARIO Front and the Kingdom of Morocco have "clearly indicated their willingness not to seek any other political solution than the implementation of the Plan" (Para 4, S/1997/742).
On 28th September Morocco has indicated its clear rejection of the referendum and is trying to find a pretext to wash its hands from it all together.
In this context, the Houston Accords negotiated between the POLISARIO Front and the Kingdom of Morocco under the auspices of Mr James Baker and approved by the Security Council constituted a real breakthrough which permitted to overcome the obstacles encountered, while offering the necessary practical modalities for the resumption of the implementation of the Settlement Plan.
In this line and despite the many obstacles created by the Moroccan side - as reported by the Secretary General to the Security Council, the Commission of identification was able, to finalize the crucial phase of the identification, and to publish on January 17 2000, the provisional list of voters. In this order of ideas, the protocol agreed to on May 1999 by the two parties enabled the Identification Commission to define the way to tackle the appeals.
Nevertheless, the introduction by Morocco of a high number of appeals seeks to put into question that arrangement and the work of the Identification Commission, while disregarding the warning of the Security Council not to transform the appeals into a second identification (Res 1238 of 14/05/1999 and 1263 of 13 September 1999). This represents additional difficulties to the implementation of the referendum process.
While it is true that the identification work and the achievements in other aspects of the implementation of the Settlement Plan, especially these related to the repatriation of the refugees (pre-registration, signalling the itineraries for the repatriation..) are substantial progress. The United Nations is again called upon to invigorate its efforts, and the parties to cooperate to overcome the difficulties and complete the implementation of the Settlement Plan.
In this regard, the POLISARIO Front has renewed its willingness and availability to continue to cooperate with the United Nations to work out the difficulties encountered in the implementation of the Settlement Plan. And reiterated also its firm attachment to the provisions of the Houston Accords, and its commitment to cooperate with the UNHCR to fulfil its mandate, in conformity with "its procedures and normal practices established in the matter of the repatriation". And reaffirmed its commitment to put into motion the confidence building measures suggested to the parties by the UNHCR.
And reaffirmed its solemn commitment to respect the outcome of a free and fair referendum on self-determination organized and supervised by the United Nations in cooperation with the OAU in the territory of Western Sahara. The POLISARIO Front hoped that the Kingdom of Morocco will show the same respect towards the International community. It is also from this conviction and from its commitment to the settlement Plan, based on International Legality, and on the inalienable right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination and independence, that the POLISARIO Front firmly rejects any other approach than the implementation of the Settlement Plan.
In the council meeting of the Socialist International in Brussels was adopted a resolution on Western Sahara its essence was "Expressed its deep concern at the constant postponement of the referendum on self-determination " and called the parties, to honour the deadlines already set, to cooperate fully with the United Nations Mission for the referendum in Western Sahara "
The EP/1603200/ believed that "the full implementation of the UN peace plan, which provides for the holding the referendum on self-determination, remains the appropriate means of bringing the peace to that area". Concerned at the constant delay of the referendum on self-determination which threatens stability , security and peace in the Maghreb region."
Would be worth noting that EU reiterated "its full support for the settlement plan" which aimed at the holding the free and fair impartial referendum to give effect to the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, /210699.
I am Utterly convinced by the fact that if there is enough political pressure on Morocco the Western Sahara by now it should have enjoyed its freedom and independence, the chapter of decolonisation in Africa should have been closed long time ago, the continuation of depraving Saharawi people from its basic right would only lead to a serious disaster which will put the stability and security of the region at a big risk , and it would not be in the benefit of anyone. The Saharawi people has appealed to the international community and in particularly to those institutions supported the settlement plan, to do what ever it can to bush Morocco to respect the Saharawi right of the self-determination and independence, and to save the settlement plan for the total failure which mean the failure of UN, and more than half billion will be evaporated on the whip of Morocco. International community must assume its responsibility toward the Saharawi people, the experiences of Ruwanda, Kosovo, East-timore still vivid and the crisis in middle-east is a very live example. The implementation of the settlement plan is much more cheaper than the resumption of the hostilities .Which might happened if the situation continue as it is.
A country like Morocco should look for peace not war
Morocco, which has a new King aiming at "A Modern, Democratic Morocco", contradicts with what Morocco is doing in the Western Sahara. Some writers says that Morocco cannot follow the Spanish Scheme 1975-1978; I think that the proof of a real democracy must go through the change of the Moroccan behaviour in Western Sahara conflict. Morocco most of it active population work on agriculture in the most sever draught. It seems thatis fashion these days that some Moroccan voices talk about wall of shame (poverty, misery and illiteracy).
Morocco has a population more than 30 million 25% of its active population is employed and more than half of inhabitant is illiterate 70% are women. In rural area 2/3 has no access to drinkable water 87% has no electricity. 93% deprived from the basic medical care.
The new King Mohamed IV in his first meeting with the press has stressed the importance of the fight against "employments, draught in rural area and the fight against the poverty and the misery, illiteracy ". Since he took over he started to sale a new image, consequently that led to some cosmetics surgery in the filed of human right, but still far short from a substantial change (return of Brahim Serfaty, and &etc. Some observers suggested that the dismissal of former brutal interior minister Driss Bassri was a significant change in Morocco may be for the new king, I think all of these are only an attempt to shine the Moroccan image, however the barbaric oppression cannot be justified in what Morocco is trying to reflect to the rest of the world .The draconian measures and behaviour toward the Saharawi peaceful demonstration which took place in the occupied territories of Western Sahara, are new proofs that there is not much change in Morocco .Morocco has a debt of more than 17 millions dollars , at a time of the personal fortune of the King is 40 billions dollars. Islamism more than 100 000 are very well organised some politician says that the raising of Islamism in Moroccan attributed to the absence of democracy and deterioration of the social living conditions, 65% under the poverty line.
The young in Morocco has no hope in the country's economy, thus the recent poll in Morocco showed that 72% of Moroccan would like to immigrate, and the most striking thing, is that many young people ages between 21-29 years old, although there is a high risk of trying to immigrate illegally, but still thousands of them prefer to swim regardless the consequences than, to stay in Morocco. Many people every year protest against the incapacity of the government to absorb the supply of labour.
On other hand 40% of Europe's drug come from Morocco. In addition Morocco keeps almost 200 000 of its troops in the occupied territories of the Western Sahara which cost more than 20 % of the total budget an average of 2-3 million dollar every day.
Against this backdrop the continuation of the Moroccan stubborn position, with no doubt will bush the UN to complete failure in its attempts to organise the referendum in Western Sahara expected so long time by the people of the territory, consequently will have a serious implication on all factors of the political equation in the whole region, the hot peace which followed the cease-fire 6th September 91 which should have led to real peace and democracy, respect human right and stability which is indispensable for the enhancement of economic ties and undoubtedly, will release 20% of the Moroccan budget to other social sector easing the life ordinary people, it might be transferred to military confrontation. Anything which is short of the referendum on self-determination will be lead to more disaster, thus it is the responsibility of every one to save settlement plan from collapse. The fuelling the fire policy can only spark the real feeling of the Saharawi people by the maximum challenge, which includes the resumption of hostility. The world is called upon to defend the might of right not the right of might late better than ever.