US Congressmen urge Bush in letter to press King of Morocco to hold referendum on Western Sahara

April 17, 2002

The Honorable George W. Bush
The President
The White House
Washington, D.C.  20504


Dear Mr. President:

In light of the upcoming visit of King Mohammed VI of Morocco, we are writing to request that you raise with him the important concerns about the conflict over the Western Sahara.   Morocco is a long-time friend of our nation.  However, prolonged delays in holding the United Nations-sponsored referendum for Western Sahara are primarily due to obstacles imposed by the Moroccan government.   Your leadership in urging the King to uphold the United Nations Settlement Plan and the Houston Accords will help bring a just and immediate resolution to the conflict. 

As you may know, the decision of the International Court of Justice, issued on October 16, 1975 regarding the conflict over Western Sahara, states the following, " The Court's conclusion is that the materials and information presented to it do not establish any tie of territorial sovereignty between the territory of Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco or the Mauritanian entity.  Thus the Court has not found legal ties of such a nature as might affect the application of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) in the decolonization of Western Sahara, and in particular, of the principle of the self-determination through the free and genuine expression of the will of the peoples of the territory."   Unfortunately, there have been attempts to abandon the negotiated, signed settlement plans under the pretext that there allegedly is no mechanism to enforce the result of the referendum.  The United Nations must uphold the agreements it brokered, otherwise its very existence is called into question.

Mr. President, as proposed in the recent past, a nebulous "alternative solution" to the carefully negotiated referendum agreements is unacceptable.  With your assistance, we urge the government of Morocco to swiftly and thoroughly address the issue of the appeals process for voters in the referendum by ceasing to attempt to register unqualified people to vote in the referendum.  We call on the international community to uphold investment standards that state that no country, including Morocco, should be signing contracts for oil and other resource exploration on land that is not theirs, and we urge Morocco to uphold the signed agreements so as not to bring instability to North Africa.  Our world does not need further instability caused by terrorism, illegal business contracts, undermining of carefully-negotiated agreements, or by the death of innocent civilians as happened on March 20 when Moroccan forces fired upon civilian Sahrawis.

Mr. President, in this time of international cooperation in fighting the war against terrorism, it is vital that less visible issues not be forgotten.  The Sahrawi people, just like the people of East Timor, desire to return to their homes and live in peace.  It would be most unfortunate if the United States directly or indirectly undermined the fundamental human right of self-determination and carefully negotiated agreements about the Western Sahara by our actions.  United States taxpayers have invested over $530 million into helping resolve this conflict.  Unfortunately, our nation has helped undermine the referendum by our inaction on this issue.  We urge you to remedy that inaction by clearly communicating to the King the necessity of holding the referendum.  In addition, we respectfully request that you urge King Mohammed VI of Morocco to allow the referendum over Western Sahara to go forward immediately.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.  We look forward to hearing from you and continuing to work with you to bring resolution to this issue.



Joseph R. Pitts 
Member of Congress 

Donald M. Payne
Member of Congress  

Dale Kildee
Member of Congress

Roscoe Bartlett
Member of Congress

David Dreier
Member of Congress

Edolphus Towns
Member of Congress

Wayne T. Gilchrest
Member of Congress

George Radanovich
Member of Congress

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