Discussion at Pacific Regional Seminar on decolonization focuses on challenges, opportunities for Non-Self-Governing Territories
MOHAMED YESLEM BEISAT, Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguía el-Hamra y de Río de Oro (Frente Polisario), said “the decolonization of Western Sahara is still a goal and responsibility of the United Nations and, therefore, of this Committee as well”. The Committee had been following closely the tortuous course of the negotiation process between the Frente Polisario and the occupying Power. “This process has not yet led to any results owing to the intransigence exhibited by the other party which, as it has stated publicity, will not accept any solution other than the reconfirmation of its annexations claims. It does not want the Saharawi people to be consulted about their future.”
He went on to say that the wise idea agreed before by both parties, namely the referendum, was the only path to definitively learn whether the people wanted to be part of Morocco or part of free nations. Even after having been proclaimed a State that was recognized by dozens of countries and the African Union, Polisario agreed to a referendum for the Saharan people, and committed to accept their decision.
“This position contrasts sharply with the Moroccan position, which does not in any way want the Sahrawi people to be consulted about their future,” he said, adding that the Committee could not continue to take a passive attitude regarding the last colonial problem in Africa on its agenda. He also expressed his full support for the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Christopher Ross, and invited the Special Committee to hold a special session on Western Sahara.
ALBERTO DE LA CALLE, Spain, said Gibraltar was “still awaiting decolonization because the administering Power has decided to ignore the recommendations of this Committee and the resolutions of the General Assembly and intends to apply, in turn, a unique formula”. He further stated that “ Spain does not, and never will, acknowledge any international legal status of the current inhabitants of Gibraltar nor will it ever accept their pretended right to dispose of the Rock”.
KHADDAD EL MOUSSAOUI, Morocco, said his country had proposed a status of “large autonomy” for the Saharans, considered serious and credible by a large number of countries, the Secretary-General and the Security Council. Such a status would allow the Saharans to manage their own political and economic affairs within the sovereignty, the national unity and territorial integrity of Morocco. Under the autonomy proposal, Morocco guaranteed to all the Saharans their full rights, without exclusion or discrimination. He stated that by 2000 the Secretary-General had come to the conclusion that it was not possible to apply entirely the main provisions of the 1991 settlement plan, except for the ceasefire. A “third way” had been recommended, with no winner and no loser, to get out of the deadlock.
He added that the Frente Polisario was not the sole representative of the Saharans. Polisario and Algeria should lift the blockade in the Tindouf camps in the south of Algeria. He went on to enumerate a number of disastrous consequences of that situation, including the trafficking in human beings and the creation of a home for terrorists, among others.
MAHIEDDINE DJEFFAL, Algeria, expressed his concern about the situation of Western Sahara. “The people of this territory are not yet allowed to exercise their fundamental right of self-determination and to freely decide their own future,” he said.
Western Sahara was the last place of colonial rule in Africa, “which is still waiting to exercise its inalienable right to self-determination”, Mr. Djeffal said, recalling that Algeria was convinced that the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination was the only way forward to settle that last unresolved problem of decolonization in Africa.
He concluded by offering Algeria’s full support for the efforts of the Secretary-General and his personal Envoy, Mr. Ross, in their search for a solution to the conflict of Western Sahara, based on the right of the Saharan people.
For information media • not an official record