Dr. Maoulainin Ben Khalihanna Maouelainin, who was, yesterday, the guest of the Panaroma program in Al Arabiya Channel, made it clear that this option will provide the Sahrawi people with " all their economic, political and social rights" and will put an end to the suffering of the Sahrawis living in Tindouf camps (South West Algeria). It would also be the best alternative for all other options being useless such as" the military option or referendum".
He noticed that Kofi Anan's last report "burried James Baker's project", calling all parties involved in the Sahara issue to proceed into" negociations falling directly in the Moroccan territorial integrity option".
He ended up by saying that "Algeria as a friendly country has helped the Polisario, at a particular time, and it should now incite them to procceed into negociations in order to solve this problem forever through full autonomy"
Here is the text of the interview:
Maya Moussaoui: Conflicts about the Western Sahara started after the end of the Spanish colonization in 1975, which caused conflicts between the States in the Region, still going on till today. The two years 1975 and 1976 witnessed the main changes in the Sahara. In October 1975, the UN General Assembly asked for a referendum in the Western Sahara under its supervision. The same month, the International Court of Justice declared the existence of historical relationship between the Western Sahara, on one part, and Morocco and Mauritania on the other part. In November, the Late King Hassan II, declared the starting of the Green March to regain back the Sahara Provinces. In the same month also, was signed a tripartite agreement between Spain, Morocco and Mauritania according to which Spain would leave the Sahara which would be divided between the two countries, Essaqia Al Hamra for Morocco, and Oued Eddahab for Mauritania. In January, 1976, the last Spanish soldier left the Western Sahara, and on February, the Popular Democratic Sahrawi Republic was constituted, with its headquarters in Tindouf, in the South of Algeria. In April, Mauritania signed the agreement according to which the Sahara would be divided between Morocco and Mauritania. After this date, conflicts went on in the Western Sahara to reach even the military confrontation but the UN was able to establish a kind of peace between Morocco and the Polisario in 1991. It was decided that it should be followed with a referendum on the independence of the Western Sahara lands, but this did not happen. Then Morocco refused the peace plan proposed by the UN which would be based on the immediate application of autonomy in the Western Sahara which would be followed with a referendum about its independence after five years. Morocco proposed to grant more independence to those regions instead of granting them autonomy. Due to the successive failures of the United Nations in finding a mechanism, to solve the Sahara conflict, about which would agree all the parties, the Secretary General Kofi Anan declared that the situation has reached such a degree that the only solution left is for Morocco to hold dialogue with the separatists in order to find a solution to this conflict which has lasted for 30 years.
Mountaha Roumhi: With us from Rabat, Dr. Maoulainin Ben Khalihanna Maouelainin, the Secretary General of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharn Affairs, and from New York Ahmed Boukhari, the Polisario representative in the United Nations.
Welcome to both of you, and I start with my guest, over the phone, Ahmed Boukhari. Mr Ahmed, the Polisario's stand and that of its President vis-à-vis the UN Secretary General's report was clear. Why do you totally refuse this report?
Ahmed Boukhari: We are refusing the main idea in the report which implies a new direction that will lead us to nothing while we prefer the implementation of James Baker's plan based on ...
M.R: Well, why then opposing negotiations between the parties in order to peacefully solve the conflict?
A.B: Well, Morocco wants to start negotiations on the consideration that the Sahara is Moroccan which is totally refused, and even the UN’s Secretary refuses it. We made negotiations in the past, with Morocco and we obtained the main results that Morocco and the United Nations accepted. So, no need for further negotiations, we need to implement what has been agreed upon.
M.R: Meaning the Secretary General talked about negotiations between the parties to reach a political, fair and permanent solution accepted by both parties while you want a legal solution, and this report has also come from the UN Secretary. You insist on the application of Baker's plan and the United Nations' former decision and more than that you are threatening to use arms. Is the Polisario Front aware of the consequences of war in this period?
A.B: I mean, you have to give me time...
A.B: We had negotiations with Morocco in the past but the problmen is that the agreements were never respected. So I would like to ask Morocco about the basis of negotiations. Morocco says negotiations should be about “Polisario’s being against the Moroccan sovereignty in the Sahara”, and this is completely refused.
The aim of negotiations or the starting point for negotiations is that the only solution is to give the Sahrawi people the right to choose independency or autonomy or be part of Morocco. So, there is no need for further useless negotiations.
M.R: Do you believe that this kind of austerity and fanaticism will lead to a result?
A.B: Unfortunately, if Morocco had respected its commitments, we would have solved the problem in the 90's. However, the problem does not lie in the difficulty faced by the UN in organizing the referendum but in the fact that Morocco refuses to cooperate with the UN efforts in order to organize the referendum, and this is the real problem.
M.R.: We are in a vicious circle. Morocco, which is the second part, and which was supposed to be represented by Dr. Maoulainin Ben Khalihanna Maouelainin, from Rabat, but it seems there are some technical difficulties, has refused Baker's plan as it does not take into consideration all the parties' conditions while you accepted it. Now, it is the opposite, Morocco accepts Anan's report while you refuse it. Is there any point, in the middle, where you can meet both of you?
A.B: These negotiations are aimless. What do we expect from them? Is it losing time or gaining time or finding a fair and definite solution for the Sahara issue. This is the problem and the main question to be asked, that is Morocco says the Western Sahara should be under the Moroccan sovereignty and we refuse this statement.
M.R.: What is acceptable in your opinion? beyond Baker's plan and the war, what is the suitable solution?
A.B: To listen to the Sahrawi people who will find a final solution to this issue, free elections or referendum organized by the UN. They should have the right to decide about their destiny, that is to choose independence, this is the main thing, the essential of the agreement reached with Morocco, and which Morocco, unfortunately refuses now.
M.R.: Mr. Ahmed, I would like to ask you to remain with me, hoping to be able to get in touch with Dr. Maoulainin Ben Khalihanna Maouelainin to be able to know Morocco’s point of view about this issue. But, first let's have a look at the speech of the Moroccan Soveriegn Mohammed VI, last March 25th, in Laayoune in which he stated that he would not give up a piece of land from the Sahara and called the southern regions to think seriously about their conception of autonomy under the Moroccan sovereignty. Mohammed VI (King of Morocco): if consultations with political parties have undergone important stages, we are calling our loyal people in the Southern Provinces to think seriously about their conception of the autonomy proposal, within the sovereignty of the Kingdom and its national unity.
M.R: With us from Rabat, via phone, my guest Dr. Maoulainin Ben Khalihanna Maouelainin, General Secretary of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs. Dr. Maoulainin Ben Khalihanna Maouelainin, you have certainly listned to the feedbacks of the Polisario Front concerning Anan's report which they totally refuse and prefer to go on war instead of proceeding in negotiations under the supervision of Morocco. What is your point of view ?
MBKM: The Moroccan position is clear as Anan's report made it clear that the three points are no more updated: the first point is the war, as they say they won’t have a state. The second solution is the referendum which is also out of dated as it is not included in the Moroccan point of view. The third solution is to remain in the current situation, and this would lead only to create a generation of people who are underprivileged in the Algerian land, so we are left with…
M.R.: You refuse war and the referendum while remaining in the current situation is perhaps refused by the international community?
MBKM: It is refused by the international community as it would create a new generation of underprivileged persons. The only solution through which Sahrawis will gain dignity, be proud of themselves and regain all their economic, political and social rights is the option proposed by His Majesty which is the full autonomy and I defy the Polisario to have any other kind of poltical action which will make them live in ...
M.R.: They refuse any kind of negotiations under the supervision of Morocco or negotiations based on the fact that the Western Sahara is part of Morocco. What is the practical solution now?
MBKM: The practical solution is that they accept negotiations as the Secretary General said.
M.R.: Why didn't you accept Baker's plan?
MBKM: Baker's plan has been burried by the UN and the Security Council, let's look forward and forget about the past, think about the Saharwis' interest which is the full autonomy within the Moroccan territorial integrity that His Majesty calls for.
M.R.: Sahrawis can waste or gain time so that Anan's report would be like Baker's and there would be a necessity for other options. You said there is no way but negotiations while they opt for war instead of negotiations. So, what would be the result of all this in the coming days?
MBKM: This is concerning the options, but we see that that this is the only and best option to solve this problem and make the UN, the Algerian people and the Moroccan people untroubled, and all the Sahrawi people in the Southern Provinces. To escape from the problem is of no use, what is useful is to hold on direct negotiations leading to the Moroccan territorial integrity.
M.R.: Do you think, Dr. Maoulainin Ben Khalihanna Maouelainin, if Algeria intercedes with the Sahrawis, would they accept to proceed into negotiations?
MBKM: I didnt' hear you.
M.R.: Do you think if Algeria intercedes with the Sahrawis, would they accept to proceed into negotiations?
MBKM: That's for sure. Algeria as a friendly country has supported the Polisario during a period of time and if its objective is the Sahrawis' interest, the politic spirit would make it incite them and help them in proceeding in negotiations to solve this issue through full autonomy within the Moroccan Kingdom.
M.R.: From Rabat, Dr. Maoulainin Ben Khalihanna Maouelainin, Secretary General of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, thank you. From New York Mr. Ahmed Boukhari representative of the Polisarion in the United Nations, thank you.