A delegation of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, led by the President of the Council, Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid made intensive contacts with a number of officials of the European institutions in Brussels, Belgium
A delegation of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs led by its President Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid is currently in Brussels to inform the European and Belgian officials on the developments of the Sahara issue and the tasks entrusted to the Council in regard with the settlement of this file.
The visit program includes several meetings with officials of the Belgian political parties.
The activities of the Delegation in the European Parliament and Belgian institutions encompass the following events:
- Meeting with Mr. Christian Gourette director of the Mediterranean and Middle East issues at Mr. Javier Solana Office
- Meeting with Mr. Ineko Landaboro Director-General of the European Council on Foreign Relations
- Meeting with Mr. Marthan Schulze Chairman of the Group of the European Socialist Party, European Parliament
- Meeting with Mr. Alain Hutchinson from Friendship Group Morocco - European Parliament and member of the Socialist Party European Parliament
- Meeting with Mrs. Joel Milkit President of the humanitarian Democratic Party
- Meeting with Mrs. Annie Marie Lizin Chairperson of the Board of Counsellors, and Senator Pierre Galand
- Meeting with Ms. Isabel Durrant, Chairwoman of the Environment Party, Mr. Senator Jusi Depie
- Meeting with Mrs. Luisa Fernanda Rudi Ubeda Chairperson of the Maghreb Committee and member of the Group of European People's Party and European Democrats
- Meeting with Mr. Didier Reyenders Reform Movement Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. Mr. Oliver Hennen, head of International Relations
- Meeting with Mr. John Paul Paras Secretary General of the Socialist Party and Mr. Godan international Secretary general of the party
- Interview by Corcas President with De standaard
- Meeting with Mr. Rick Deims Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, House of Representatives of Belgium at the headquarters of the House of Representatives
- Meeting with Mr. Ioannis Kasoulides from the delegation of the Commission of Inquiry and a member of the European People's Party and European Democrats
Council delegation meets the Director in charge of the Mediterraneanissues and Middle East at Javier Solana Office
On the Monday 19th of June a meeting took place in the headquarter of the European parliament, between a Corcas delegation and Mr Christian Jourit the director in charge of the Mediterranean and Middle east affairs in the Khafeir Solana‘s cabinet, during this meeting Mr Jourit expressed his satisfaction to the right path used by Morocco, which relies on diplomacy in order to settle the western Sahara issue.
In his intervention Mr Christian Joury talked about the Sahara conflict, and his interest about this issue, being a former expert in the Palestinian Israel conflict, he asserted that this meeting is an opportunity to listen to the Moroccan view of the dispute. He also mentioned following Mr Khalihenna’s intervention:
- the important role played by the European countries after the second world war, and also the Political European diplomacy to establish the basis for peace, and the building of a new Europe based on cooperation between the countries of he world
- the right path used by Morocco based on diplomacy in order to solve the dispute
- the historical responsibility of France and Spain to find a solution to this problem
- the Sahara dispute is big obstacle to the building of the Maghreb Arab unity
- the European position in this issue, is clear and based on the un orientations, the only body which possesses the right to settle this conflict
- the ongoing procedure in order to organize a meeting between a corcas delegation and Mr. Solana
In his introductory intervention, the chairman of corcas mentioned the following sections:
- a general definition of the royal advisory council for Saharan affairs: from the points of view of its constitution, and aims being a body which truly reflects the Saharan society
- the royal speech of 25 th of March 2006, being one of the historical steps of the kingdom of Morocco as a whole, and the southern region in particular
- the aims and the expected results of the creation of this council, as one of its main aims the complete reconciliation between the administration and the inhabitants of these regions of Morocco, in addition to the mobilization of the inhabitants of the southern regions at all levels,
- the historical stages of the Sahara conflict, and the social and political circumstances which led to the creation Polisario front, and which came as a result of a demonstration organized by some sahraoui students who used to study at the Mohamed v university during the seventies, this event obviously means that it is a Moroccan/ Moroccan conflict
- the UN attempts to settle the crisis, and the obstacles , the failure of attempts based on the referendum as proposed by Baker -the latest UN resolution which calls for negotiation and a political solution
The new Moroccan strategy based on granting the south region a substantial autonomy
An idea about various visits made by the corcas delegation to different countries of the world
The important role that may be played by the European Union to achieve the expected aims.
Council delegation meets the Director General for External Relations, European Council in Brussels
Corcas delegation met on Monday, June 19 with Ineko Landaboro, Director-General of External Relations at the European Council, another opportunity for the Moroccan delegation to present to European officials point of view of the Kingdom of Morocco about the Sahara, and the prospects for resolving this long conflict.
For his part, Mr. Ineko Landaboro said in his speech:
- The optimal solution envisaged by Europe to resolve this conflict must inevitably be based on trust between the parties to the conflict
- Europeans are interested in the content of the UN report in this regard
- The importance of laying the foundations for a constructive dialogue between Morocco and the Polisario
- The obligation to take autonomy as definitive solution is unacceptable to reach positive results in this context
- Algerians very busy over the presence of the camps on their soil, are looking for an outlet to get rid of it
After this intervention, Mr. Rashid Khalihenna Ould Errachid took the floor to remove confusion on what follows:
- expanded autonomy in the Sahara,
has been welcomed by various Sahrawi groups locally and internationally, where the majority of Sahrawis live in security and safety on their soil with their parents in the southern regions of Morocco. There are only a few people living in Tindouf camps estimated at about 25%, 3% in Mauritania, and even this minority is now considering various ways to return to their home country, Morocco.
- Algeria’s contradictory ideology in the dispute
- The recent decision of the Security Council clearly recognized a political solution to the conflict based on negotiation between the parties to the conflict
The current status of the dispute:
- Either to remain in the impasse, and accept all the disadvantages at all levels
- Or to engage in the Moroccan strategy through autonomy
- Call on all parties involved in the conflict to enter into negotiations on the basis of self-government, in order to get out of this impasse
- Corcas calls on Algeria to facilitate the communication process of the Polisario Front in order to put an end to the conflict, as Algeria states that it is not directly concerned with the issue
- Autonomy opens opportunities and prospects for the future for the inhabitants to conduct their local affairs, and thus their direct participation in the development of their region in the context of a parliament and local government.
- Autonomy in the southern regions means:
- Stability, security and peace in the region, as Morocco and Algeria are brotherly countries
- Building the greater Maghreb
- Contrary to what is in the Tindouf camps, the population living in Morocco, live in peace and security and decent living conditions among their families, where there is democracy, freedom of expression; No one is tried because of his ideas expressed by all legitimate means, except violence.
With regard to the events that took place in the region, they are normal events in a state of democracy and freedom of expression, which does not exist in the other side.
Council delegation meets the President of the European Socialist Party Group at the European Parliament
A delegation of the CORCAS led by Mr Khalihena Ould Errachid had a meeting on Tuesday with Mr Moran Schulz, the president of the European Socialist party group in the European parliament, during a three day trip to Belgium, where the council delegation had meetings with European and Belgium officials about the Moroccan proposal of autonomy in the Sahara
Mr Moran Schulz said in his intervention that the success of the Moroccan proposal in linked with keeping the cultural heritage of the area concerned with the autonomy project, and to be considered an integral part of the general framework of development and democracy in the region as a whole. He also asserted the importance of the relation between the Maghreb Arab region and the European union, and the necessity of the European union to help the parties concerned in order to put an end to the dispute, and call Algeria and convince her in this respect .
Mr Moran Schulz expressed his intention to participate with the Spanish socialist party, and also the French and Italian socialist parties with the aims to reaching results that everybody is waiting for.
Friendship Group Morocco - European Parliament:
The proposal of an expanded autonomy in the Sahara, "very important"
The friendship group Morocco - European Parliament, tdescribed he proposal put forward by the Kingdom of Morocco on the creation of an expanded autonomy in the Sahara under Moroccan sovereignty, as "very important".
Group members, following a meeting on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 at the European Parliament with the delegation of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs led by its President Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid, said that the proposal is "very important" and "very encouraging" and deserves support from the European Parliament.
The Council Chairman presented During the meeting, which was attended by the Ambassador of Morocco to the European Community, Mr. Mnawar Alem, the developments of Sahara issue, referring to the accuracy of this proposal which ensures the interests of all parties involved in this thirty year dispute.
The Sahara dispute was the focus of talks Tuesday with President of the Arab Maghreb Delegation to the European Parliament Mrs. Luisa Fernanda Oubida. The members of the delegation of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, met on Monday Mr. Christian,. Gorey director of the Office of Javier Solana, High Representative of the EU foreign policy and common security and Aniko Lndaboro Director-General for External Relations at the European Commission.
Two members of the European Socialist Group declare:
Proposals submitted by Corcas delegation in Brussels on the Sahara issue are "positive and realistic"
A delegation headed by Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid and the delegation accompanying him, in the presence of His Excellency the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco in Belgium, held a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday with members of the Moroccan friendship group - European Parliament headed by Mr. Alain Hutchinson
The CORCAS delegation led by Mr khalihena Ould Er Rachid, with the presence of the Moroccan ambassador in Brussels , held on Tuesday a meeting at Brussels with members of the Moroccan European Parliament friendship association presided by Mr Alain Hutchinson .
Here the statements of both members:
- Mr Alain Hutchinson : I think that the proposals and information given to us today by the Moroccan delegation about the Sahara issue is entirely useful as the Moroccan proposal which put forward the autonomy as a solution to the conflict is indeed encouraging, as you may know that the regionalisation was seen as a solution to several political problems which resembles the Sahara issue, in fact the royal council has started in practical terms its move in this respect , in order to solve this problem practically speaking, and we hope that the other party , which is the Polisario front to open up to this encouraging Moroccan proposal
- Mrs Napoli tan Amir: I found this proposal realistic, we have been working for years in order to reach a solution to this problem, which lasts for a long time, and which creates suffering, we have heard today the Moroccan point of view during our meeting with the Royal advisory council for Saharan affairs, as we have listened to the Polisario’s view point, and we hope that the problem will be solved in the future
Council delegation meets with Jose Dubie, Isabel Duran from Belgian Green Party
Mr. Jose Dubie, deputy of the Green Party at the regional parliament of the Brussels region- after a meeting with the Moroccan corcas delegation that autonomy made by Morocco is "a new and important, development without which it would be difficult to reach a solution to this long conflict" .
He told the Arab Maghreb news agency after this meeting which was attended by Isabel Duran member of the Senate and collective management of the Party and the Ambassador of Morocco in Belgium and Luxembourg, Mr. Mustafa Salaheddine: "We hope that Algeria will help to reach a settlement and a solution."
The delegation of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, which is on a three-day visit to Brussels, held talks on Monday with officials of the European Union and met on Tuesday with European parliamentarians with the presence of the Ambassador of Morocco to the European Community, Mr. Mnaouar Alem.
During a meeting with the delegation, members of the Friendship Group Morocco – European Parliament described the proposal as "very important".
It is expected that the members of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs will hold on Wednesday talks with other Belgian officials, before receiving them at the headquarters of the House of Representatives.
Council delegation meets with the Secretary-General of the Socialist Party and party's International Secretary
The meeting on Wednesday between the Moroccan delegation from corcas at headquarters of the Socialist Party, with Mr. John Paul Paras, General Secretary of the Socialist Party and Mr. Godan, the international secretary was characterized by their points of view regarding the Moroccan initiative to solve the Sahara conflict.
The meeting of the Moroccan delegation from CORCAS with Mr John Paul Parass the general secretary of the French socialist party , and Mr Ghodan , the international secretary of the party, which took place on Wednesday at the headquarter of the party, was successful , as both party officials in their intervention mentioned the following:
- to encourage the Moroccan proposal which has an overall look to reach a settlement to the Sahara issue, with no winner and no looser .
- Negotiation is the only mean for a settlement to the dispute.
- To congratulate Morocco for the evolution of its position concerning the conflict
- Globalization requires great Maghreb
- The position of socialists in order to help out in terms of a solution to the conflict, according to the general orientation of the United Nations
- a promise to bring closer the points of View of the parties concerned, and convince them in this matter
Corcas delegation received in the House of Representatives of Belgium
The chairman of the foreign relations committee in the Belgium Parliament Mr Rick Dimes received on Wednesday 22nd of June 2006 at Brussels a delegation of Corcas led by Mr Khalihenna Ould Errachid, who explained to him His Majesty the king Mohammed VI’s proposal concerning the autonomy in the Sahara, and duties of the council in this respect.
Mr Ould Errachid confirmed that the autonomy in the Sahara within the Moroccan sovereignty is “ a practical , unique and final one” to put an end to this matter according to the international legality, he explained that the autonomy proposal is answering the Sahraoui requirements, as it guaranties the interests of all parties concerned , he added that the autonomy means a peaceful solution which is adopted by a number of European countries , as a form of self-determination in regions in the world .
In his part Mr Rick Dimes expressed his support to all proposals which may lead to put an end to this long term conflict. It worth mentioning that the council’s delegation which is composed of the secretary general Mr Ma lainine Ben Khali Hanna Malainine, and a number of the CORCAS’s members met this morning both Mr Jean Paul Parass the general secretary of the socialist party( member of the federal coalition government), and Etian Godan the international secretary of the same party, the latter said that the Moroccan proposal which goes along with reforms realized in Morocco during the last years, explains clearly the willingness of Morocco to go ahead to solve this issue, he expressed his support to any negotiated and final solution .the delegation also held a meeting with Mr Olivier Hinnin in charge in the cabinet of the finance minister, and Didi Reyndos the leader of the party of the reformist movement ( member in the coalition government)
The CORCAS’s delegation, which pays a three day visit to Brussels, met yesterday the leader of the Belgium congress, Mrs Mary Lizinzz, and also a number of officials of political parties, in addition to other meetings last Monday with officials in the European Union, and members of the European Parliament.
Corcas chairman interviewed by De Standaard
Council Chairman calls upon Polisario to be politically realistic
Dutch speaking paper "De Standaard" said that the King entrusted the Royal advisory Council for Sahara Affairs with the mission to pave the way for autonomy.
In an interview with the chairman of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid, after a visit to Brussels at the head of an important delegation, the paper said that autonomy of has become possible thanks to the pro-reform will of His Majesty King Mohammed VI."
It highlighted, quoting Mr. Ould Errachid, that autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty is the "only realistic and final solution," which responds to the demands of Sahrawis and guarantees interests of all parties to the dispute.
"Mr. Ould Errachid added that this solution is also useful for the emergence of" a stable Maghreb, "and looking towards the future.
Mr. Ould Errachid, who headed a delegation from the Council, held during his visit to Brussels talks with several Belgian and European officials about the initiative of His Majesty and the task entrusted to the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs in this regard.
Interview by CORCAS chairman in Brussels to the Belgo-Moroccan website "wafin.be"
Khalihenna: I call on Algeria to be consistent with its permanent declaration it is not interested in the Sahara
Algeria is asked to help find a solution to Sahara issue through easing dialogue with Sahrawis “ who live in its territory”, said the chairman of the Royal Advisory Council for Sahran Affairs, Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid in an interview published on July 4 in the Belgo-Moroccan website "wafin.be" , believing that autonomy will be beneficial for everybody.
"Wafin.be: who is CORCAS chairman?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: I was born in Laayoune where I had my primary and secondary education. I did my high studies in the Madrid Engineering School. At 23 years old, I founded the Sahrawi National Union Party (PNOUS). This party was intended to found the state that the Spanish wanted to set up in Sahara. I was expected to be the head of this state.
However, because of my education, I refused this position. I did not want to take part in the implementation of this project. Therefore, I rejected this career that the Spanish proposed to me and I went to late king Hassan II, may God rest his soul in peace. Since then, i.e. between May 1975 and October 16, 1975, when His Majesty announced the Green March, I was a close collaborator to His Majesty Hassan II for the preparation of the Green March on the diplomatic, strategic and technical aspect. I took part in the fulfilment of the Green March and the last victory. In addition, I had the opportunity, during this period, to carry out a number of missions throughout the world: in America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. I also had the privilege to be chosen by King Hassan II to defend the Madrid Accords in the UN Security Council in November 1975.
After the recovery of the territories on February 28, 1976, I spent all the 1976 year in the establishment of the national administration in the region. At the beginning of 1977, I had the privilege to participate for the first time in the government of that time. I stayed in the government until 1992 and had different positions. At first, I was in charge of Saharan affairs, after, I was minister in charge of development of Saharan provinces until August 1992. I am also mayor of the city of Laayoune since 1983. I was a representative of laayoune for 25 years, from 1977 until 2002.
Wafin.be: with which party?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: various parties, at the beginning, in 1977, I was one of the founders of National Rally of Independents (RNI) with Mr. Ahmed Ousmane. Afterwards, in 1980, there was a scission in this movement. It was a great group with 200 representatives. The National Democratic Party was founded. I took part in its foundation and belonged to until I left politics. In 2000, I had the privilege to be chosen by His Majesty Mohammed VI to take part in negotiations with James Baker. I participated also in three meetings which took place in London and Berlin.
Wafin.be: after a period when nothing happened and, to the astonishment of everybody, Mohammed VI announced the setting up of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan affairs ( CORCAS) of which you are the chairman. There were certainly some consultations before the creation of this Council, what happened exactly, and what is the CORCAS mission?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: I will not talk about the period preceding CORCAS… on March 25, His Majesty founded CORCAS and entrusted it with a great and lofty mission which was described in the Royal Decree creating it and it is divided into three parts: 1- Preserve national integrity 2- Help His Majesty preserve national integrity 3- carry out all measures required for the economic, social and political development of the Sahara. And of course, implement His Majesty’s project relating to autonomy.
Wafin.be: CORCAS is composed of 141 members representing all Sahrawi population, they are managers, tribes’ heads, and young people, with a 10% quota for women, could you describe this structure?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: the CORCAS is a Royal Institution directly depending on His Majesty. It is composed of 141 members who represent Sahrawi society. This institution was not elected. It was appointed. However, its members are the current elite of the Sahara. They are elected members, intellectuals, notables, civil society, women, youth, chioukhs, everybody…
It is a real representation of Sahrawi society as traditionally done i.e. by co-optation. Our mission began on March 25, 2006 in Laayoune and since then we work so hard. In addition to our diplomatic, economic and social task in the South, we are working on an important autonomy project.
We are working on its legal, regular and administrative elaboration. This project will revolutionize Morocco. Our visit to Brussels comes within the framework of our diplomatic efforts deployed abroad to explain our mission and present our autonomy project.
Wafin.be: at the end of this cognitive task, a work will be submitted to the King before being presented to the UN?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: the date of the submission of the project which will be submitted to the UN will be fixed by His Majesty. The procedure will be as follows: HM the King will hold consultations with political parties. He will hold consultations with CORCAS which is preparing the autonomy project. On the basis of a number of consultations, HM the King will elaborate the final project which will be submitted on the fixed date.
Wafin.be: what is your timing for presenting your conclusions and autonomy project?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: October 2006.
Wafin.be: too short, is not it?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: if we work hard, we will respect this deadline.
Wafin.be: In Morocco, whenever there is a crisis, we resort to the creation of a body called independent or advisory, it was the case with Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER), the Advisory Council for Human Affairs (CCDH), the Commission of the New Family Code (Moudawana) and so on… it has almost become a Moroccan specialty to settle crises?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: it is not particular in Morocco. Westerners also create a number of institutions for specific problems. For example, for the European Constitution, they have made an agreement! For specific problems, there should be specific problems.
The Sahara issue is so important that HM the King has created CORCAS. In addition, it is the only Royal Council in Morocco. Our mission is not to be an entity, not an administrative body, it is advisory but not like parliament, it is not an executive council; it is a tool of HM the king. He asked us to carry out diplomatic missions, prepare autonomy project and fulfil any action relating to this.
Wafin.be: before talking about CORCAS, we would like to go back to the Western Sahara history. Briefly, there have been three major tendencies when Spanish left: two wanted to join Morocco, including your party and the General Assembly which was presided by Mr. El Joummani, then, there was the separatist party. The latter settled abroad, mainly in Algeria, this tendency was and still very present. Could you tell us more about these historic elements?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: First, let me tell something very important: the Polisario Front was not founded by people who lived under the Spanish occupation. They are Moroccans from Sahrawi origins who studied at Mohammed V University in Rabat and who were hostile to Morocco’s political situation at that time. It was these people who founded Polisario. It is we, i.e. people who lived with the Spanish, who had their education and were trained in their universities who created the opposing movement.
That is to say that it was we who refused to establish a state by the Spanish and opted for unity of Moroccans, whether inside the PNOUS which was the modern party or at the General Assembly “jamaa " which was composed of heads of tribes (Chioukhs). All Sahrawis who lived under the Spanish occupation opted for unity. They were our students, our brothers and our cousins who belonged to the regions of Tan-Tan, Goulmim, Assa, who belonged to the free Morocco, it was these people who founded Polisario in 1973.
Wafin.be: what were the motives behind the creation of polisario?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: the region was marginalized at that time, they were legitimate claims then. There was no development, no roads, no electricity, no phone... It is normal that some young students wanted to protest.
Protesting at that period was fashionable. To be rebels like Che Guevara, or Hippi as was common in 70s! Without forgetting Pan-Arabism, conflict with Algeria, and the situation inside Morocco which was not brilliant. All these elements fed Polisario. I always say that the Sahara issue is a Morocco-Moroccan problem, an internal problem.
Clearly it has taken an international dimension but it was mainly due to the context: conflict with Algeria, Libyan opposition to our monarchical system, inter-Arab conflicts, and especially the Cold War. Morocco sided with the western bloc while Algeria and Libya supported the Eastern bloc.
All in all, all these facts have contributed to the emergence of Polisario which was a problem subsidiary to the Sahara issue! The Spanish concluded an agreement with Morocco which did not use power enter to the Sahara. It did not violate any international law’s rules.
It sought the Hague International Court, then, it negotiated with Spain. Morocco signed an agreement according to the rules of the duly ratified International Law. I had the privilege to ratify this agreement in the Security Council in November 1975. The aggravation of the Polisario problem came later bringing about other causes. It was added to the Spanish-Moroccan affair. The Spanish-Moroccan affair is neither a cause of the Sahara conflict nor of the war that we had.
Wafin.be: after almost three decades of political setbacks, wars and failing agreements, Morocco puts forward the thesis that it is a Morocco-Moroccan problem to which it was given an international dimension, we did not dare to say this before…
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: it is normal! It is true that when there was war, we were not heard. War policy was applied. However, Morocco won the war… when cease fire was implemented, there was a process supervised by the UN i.e the settlement plan. Facts showed that this plan was going to fail. It is impossible to organize a fair referendum if we do not change frontiers! the Sahara population goes beyond the Moroccan and Algerian frontiers …
Wafin.be: hence the census problem!
Khalihenna Ould Errachid:Yes, and alos the failure of the mission of Mr. James Baker and the others. It is impossible to organize a referendum in the Sahara. Absolutely impossible. It is not because Morocco is not willing, but technically and politically speaking, it is impossible to fulfil. For this reason, the UN has never finished a similar referendum. There has never been a referendum based upon identification. This is why it failed.
Wafin.be: though at the beginning it was in favour of a referendum, what pushed Morocco to change its mind?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: Today, Morocco is sufficiently strong and sufficiently equipped to make a revolutionary proposal! Morocco was not administratively, politically, diplomatically and economically ready. The Sahara positively changed Morocco.
Wafin.be: nevertheless, there was a war which cost a lot in terms of human lives and tragedies and financial costs, the war left a lot of damage?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: not only this, it is sad to say, but there were also positive things. The Sahara contributed to the blooming of Morocco, to the redeployment of Morocco in the world and inside the country too; it contributed to the Moroccan unanimity; it contributed to the emergence of the Moroccan democratic process and of a new Moroccan society. The Sahara has not been negative for Morocco, it has been positive indeed.
Its influence on Morocco is so strong that it can inspire us and inspire His Majesty to carry out a new stage by proposing autonomy. Autonomy is a great bet, a challenge launched not only to us, but also to Africans and Arabs…
Wafin.be: in which sense?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: in the sense that we should govern our countries in a way that satisfies our populations. This is autonomy challenge. It will deeply change our country, administratively, constitutionally, democratically, mentally, economically…
Wafin.be: let’s restore facts’ order: after the failure of Mr. Baker mission, there was a time of reflection by both sides; worse, weapons were about to be held again?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: these are absurd threats!
Wafin.be: is yoyr mission to contact the other party… the Polisario?
Of course, it is our first mission! It is my main task! However, you should know that autonomy is not addressed to Polisario only. It is addressed to all Sahrawis. In addition to polisario, I address all Sahrawis…
It is the project of every Sahrawi; every Sahrawi should adopt it since it is linked to its future. Polisario cannot create an obstacle to this…
Wafin.be: have you contacted it ?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: of course, everyday. We invite them to negotiate. Polisario is not a democratic movement. It does not want to hold dialogue; it sticks to the past; it is very doctrinal and dogmatic, it dreads openness and contradiction. This is the reason why it expresses itself in a limited circle. However, we will push it by many means to negotiate.
Wafin.be: what is the role of Algeria in all this process?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: everybody knows that Algeria helps Polisario. It is not a secret. So far, I have not heard anything relating to the CORCAS. I call for Algeria to respect what it says everywhere that it is not concerned about the Sahara affair.
It says that this affair concerns Sahrawis, Morocco, and the UN. We ask Algeria to help us find a beneficial solution for all parties. A solution that will help Algeria leave honourably this crisis and help the Maghreb make and end to the deadlock it witnesses at present. Algeria has to make something to save face. We do not want to humiliate Algeria. We want it to be our everlasting neighbour and ask it to help us hold dialogue with our brothers who live in its territory. As everybody knows, refugees camps are in Algeria camps… Algeria is a prerequisite step to hold dialogue with Polisario. We call for it to encourage this by to contacting the CORCAS immediately.
Wafin.be: this autonomy will be economic, administrative like the Spanish model? A sort of the federal regime?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: first, the regime will not be federal. Second, no country has an autonomy which is base upon the model of another country. Every country has its own model of autonomy. We will make a Moroccan autonomy project inspired by successful models in the world. Since we are open to the world, it is normal that we are inspired by Spain, Italy and other successful experiences. However, we will, propose an autonomy which satisfies particular interests and specificities of the kingdom of Morocco. I can say nothing about what is being prepared, but can tell that it will be a political autonomy.
Wafin.be: a last word to the Moroccan citizens living abroad in general and particularly to those living in Belgium ?
Khalihenna Ould Errachid: our community can do a lot for the Saharan cause. It is active. We call for it to go on defending our national cause until the last victory ».
Ould Errachid to Asharq Al Awsat: Algeria has to comply with what it says to its people, Morocco and the World
Corcas chairman: we won’t allow somebody harm autonomy
Brussels: Abdellah Mustapha: A Moroccan delegation representing the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs created last March by a decision from the King Mohammed VI in order to prepare autonomy plan for the Southern provinces and submit a report to the King next fall on the Council’s views about autonomy as an alternative for the Sahara conflict which has lasted for 30 years.
Asharq Al Awsat met the Council’s chairman Khallihenna Ould and discussed with him the visit’s reasons and the main features of the project as well as the obstacles in front of finding a solution to the conflict and Algeria’s role in this issue.
Q: why are you visiting Belgium?
KOE: we are in Brussels for two reasons: visit Belgium and visit the EU institutions. We met with different opposition and governing Belgium political parties, MPs and Senate members. We also met with officials from the European Commission and European Parliament and representatives of political groups and parties in the Parliament. Our objective is to explain autonomy content to Sahrawi entities and the reasons that led King Mohammed VI to propose autonomy as final solution which has lasted for more than three decades.
We came to explain to all these parties that autonomy is proposed because the other options did not work whether during war period which lasted for 16 years in vain and was a catastrophe to Sahrawis, the Maghreb and Africa.
We clarified to Europeans that there is another way chosen by the UN to solve the problem following ceasefire which coincided with the Soviet Union collapse in 1991. The UN started the settlement process but chose the wrong way which is referendum never experienced obviously in any other place. The UN did not manage to carry out referendum in spite of its ten year attempts. The reason is that the Sahara inhabitants do not live only in the Sahara which was occupied by Spain; they are living also in other regions such as south-eastern Algeria, north-western Mauritania and northern Mali. In order to realize such a referendum, we have first of all to define borders but this was not possible and not logical. Consequently, war failed, referendum failed and the result was deadlock.
Q: what did you exactly ask Europeans for?
A: we asked them to support the solution they had already supported to resolve a lot of problems i.e. dialogue and negotiations. This is our method to solve this issue.
But in order to convince the European side, you should present the main features of the report that you are going to submit to the King by the end of next autumn. Are you going to tell us about these main features?
Autonomy plan content is not completed yet. We are studying it since this regime is new to Morocco and the Whole Arab World. We are studying its constitutional, legal and regulatory aspects and will be ready next fall by the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs. However, we told our European friends that autonomy will be political based on the internationally recognized criteria and according to what is existing in Europe. We will take example from Europe especially closer countries which have already experienced autonomy and decentralization.
I told Europeans that this is a true autonomy since Europe knows the difference between a true and false autonomy. What Morocco is proposing is a political autonomy that will allow people handle their own affairs by themselves. I mean the political, economic and social affairs. Autonomy techniques, on the other hand, are know to Europeans since there are competencies related to the State and others related to autonomy and there are common competencies.
Accordingly, our project is serious and credible and meets international criteria and not a political or diplomatic manoeuvring. It will have effects on the Moroccan state and requires democratic, administrative and constitutional revolution to treat and deal with the new situation. This challenge makes Morocco move confidently towards setting up democratic institutions and state of law. This cannot be achieved without satisfying people and this is what the king will do.
We asked Europeans to support the UN to end this conflict which does not serve parties since it has not prevented Algerian civil war and the African division and did not help the Great Maghreb. The conflict has not served Sahrawis as well, on the contrary, it resulted in division and suffering in camps. We call on Algeria, with which we share history, present and the future, to comply with what it says to its people, to Morocco and to the world when it affirms not to be a party in the conflict and has no claims relating to the Sahara issue and when it syas that this is a Moroccan internal problem between Morocco and Polisario within the UN.
We don’t want Algeria to impede the UN efforts and countries willing to solve this problem. We ask it not to make obstacles before the Sahrawi-Sahrawi dialogue and encourage our brothers living in its territories to enter into dialogue with us so that we can leave behind this historical mess which is not serving Algerian, Arab and Muslim interests
Q: What if Polisario refused?
KOE: I don’t believe in refusal. Autonomy is not addressed to a party, entity or an organisation like Polisario which is a political military organisation similar to the ancient socialist model. It is unique party, unique thinking and unique strategy. I don’t believe in that and Polisario cannot say it is the only or unique representative. I tell Sahrawis that autonomy is our project and we will not let anyone harm it. This is dream achieving.
Q: How are you going to convince Algeria to support dialogue and negotiations?
KOE: I pray God to guide them, I must say that there has never been serious conflict between Morocco and Algeria but of course there are some divergence based on psychological problems that we want to eradicate.
Q: is Corcas mission linked to autonomy plan submission or will it continue working afterwards?
KOE: According to the Royal decision, Corcas mission lasts four years. It is the King who created the Council and it is him who decides when it ends. After reaching an agreement on autonomy we will see. Of course, things are going change if autonomy is applied.
Q: on which basis corcas members were created?
KOE: the Council started last March 25, its members are appointed by the King. It includes personalities representing all Saharan tribes enjoying good reputation. The Council gathers 141 members including 10% of women, and there are youth, sheiks, managers and it reflects Sahrawi society.
Q: If Polisario members want to join the Council will you accept them?
A: There are already “returning” members and we have nothing against Polisario members. The father of Polisario leader is a member in the Council. We open doors for our brothers not only to become members in the Council but also to enter into direct negotiations to solve the problem and come back not as losers but winners with full dignity for autonomy is a solution without winner or looser.
Q: You met Moroccan nationals living in Brussels, are you expecting them to play a role in the conflict?
A: Moroccan nationals abroad play major part in this issue especially those living in Europe. They are militants. We came here to meet them and brief them about facts. We visited France and Spain and we will visit other countries to meet Moroccan nationals living there as well as the media so as to clarify vision for everybody.
Corcas Chairman makes Comprehensive Assessment to Audiovisual Press on Council's Tour in Belgium
Khalihenna: We received real support and encouragement to move forward in the application of the autonomy
Corcas Chairman who paid a three-day visit to Belgium made a declaration to national audio-visual media in which he presented a comprehensive assessment of the outcome of Corcas visits to Belgium and European institutions.
Declaration to Laayoune Regional Channel
"Yes, we paid a visit at the head of an important delegation from the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs to Belgium, the European institutions, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Council. We were received by officials of all parties from the Belgian Government, the Opposition, the House of Representatives and the Senate.
We were also received by officials in charge of Arab World and foreign policy in the European Council, the European Commission and European Parliament. We had talks with all these officials about the Sahara issue. We made full explanation on autonomy and the need to put an end to this dispute by the parties. We told them that autonomy corresponds to what exists in the European Union to resolve regional issues and issues related to regional groups and that such a solution is in conformity with international standards and with the desire of the United Nations to find a definitive solution to this issue through negotiation.
We showed to these parties, which received us warmly that this solution is identical to the international legitimacy and enters within the scope of United Nations efforts to find a final solution to the conflict. Autonomy is also in conformity with the rights given to the regional groups as what is taking place in Europe through dialogue understanding, negotiation and resolution of matters by peaceful means.
We asked these parties to encourage and assist the other parties to the United Nations in ending the conflict quickly believing that the visit was very positive and very satisfactory. We rectified all the concepts held by these officials and received real and genuine support and encouragement to move forward in the application of autonomy.
Phone Declaration to Laayoune Regional Channel
Today’s visit, which includes a delegation from the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs intends to meet with officials at the European Commission ie the executive European Commission and the European Union in charge of foreign relations as well as parliamentary groups in the European Parliament, politicians and the Committee in in charge of the Arab Maghreb in the European Parliament and the Committee in charge of our territorial unity.
Therefore, we will be meeting with officials in the field, and of course we will be meeting with the Belgian institutions, especially political parties, as well as with the President of the Senate and all bodies in the Senate and the Belgian Parliament. We expect that this starting visit will be successful.
Speaking to National Radio
They have considerable experience with regard to the application of consensus as democratic means to overcome problems. We will create an autonomy that corresponds to Morocco’s specificities preserving the interests of the Kingdom of Morocco. We will benefit from the experiences of Belgium Spain, Italy, France or Great Britain regarding the various aspects of the autonomy relating to economic, social and political issues, in addition to institutions. Then, there is no doubt that Belgian method to resolve issues by mutual consent is beneficial to us.
(News concerning Western Sahara issue / Corcas)