quinta-feira, 26 de fevereiro de 2009

Allow Sahrawis self determination – UN envoy

The United Nation's new envoy to the Western Sahara has maintained the Saharawi people's right to self-determination, a position that analysts fear could complicate negotiations with Morocco.

Morocco which has annexed Western Sahara territory since 1976 has been a cause for concern and a feud on its neighbours and the country's main militant group, Polissario which claims to be fighting for its independence from Morocco.

The envoy Christopher Ross who is in Tindouf about 2,000 kilometers southwest of Algiers said his mission in north Africa is to revive negotiations between Polisario Front and Morocco for a solution allowing the Sahrawi people's right to self-determination.

Talks between Morocco and the Polisario independence movement have stalled for nearly a year since Morocco backtracked on the UN plan for a referendum to determine Western Sahara's future.

"I am in Tindouf to inquire about Polisario Front position and its view on the modalities to be implemented to progress in the UN-brokered negotiations, in a series of decisions, for a mutually acceptable solution which takes into account the Sahrawi people's right to self-determination," Mr Ross said.

The Sahrawi leadership has in the past expressed disappointment with the UN which in 1991 reached a ceasefire agreement between Polisartio and Morocco and was to organise a referendum over independence of the Sahrawi citizens.

However, the UN never managed to organise such a referendum due to Morocco's wrecking of the process, and during the last few years, with the UN mediators having strayed from the original ceasefire agreement.

Morocco wants to reopen talks with the condition that they focus only on its autonomy plan, not a referendum. The referendum plan included in the cease-fire deal that never took place because the two sides cannot agree on voting lists.

Morocco wants to include the 100,000 settlers it brought to Western Sahara, while the Polisario wants to count only the original residents and the 160,000 Saharawi refugees now living in camps near Algeria.

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