Morocco provides a national project in terms of maintaining its sovereignty over all its territory, and democratic in terms of enabling people to manage their own affairs. This project is the only likely to achieve an agreed political solution to the Moroccan Sahara dispute.
Certainly, there is not other solution than that provided by Morocco through its initiative to end the conflict safely and soon. It became clear that all proposals for referendum and self-determination are impossible. Observers unanimously agree that no provocations against Morocco will affect the determination of the Moroccans nor dissuade them from their struggle and their attachment to every inch of their soil. They contend that the proposal will show the intentions of parties who claim democracy and their credibility and impartiality of self-interest and inexistence of ambitions in the region
Full text of Moroccan initiative
1. Since 2004, the Security Council has been regularly calling upon “the parties and States of the region to continue to cooperate fully with the United Nations to end the current impasse and to achieve progress towards a political solution”.
2. Responding to this call by the international community, the Kingdom of Morocco set a positive, constructive and dynamic process in motion, and pledged to submit an autonomy proposal for the Sahara, within the framework of the Kingdom’s sovereignty and national unity.
3. This initiative is part of the endeavors made to build a modern, democratic society, based on the rule of law, collective and individual freedoms, and economic and social development. As such, it brings hope for a better future for the region’s populations, puts an end to separation and exile, and promotes reconciliation.
4. Through this initiative, the Kingdom of Morocco guarantees to all Sahrawis, inside as well as outside the territory, that they will hold a privileged position and play a leading role in the bodies and institutions of the region, without discrimination or exclusion.
5. Thus, the Sahara populations will themselves run their affairs democratically, through legislative, executive and judicial bodies enjoying exclusive powers. They will have the financial resources needed for the region’s development in all fields, and will take an active part in the nation’s economic, social and cultural life.
6. The State will keep its powers in the royal domains, especially with respect to defense, external relations and the constitutional and religious prerogatives of His Majesty the King.
7. The Moroccan initiative, which is made in an open spirit, aims to set the stage for dialogue and a negotiation process that would lead to a mutually acceptable political solution.
8. As the outcome of negotiations, the autonomy statute shall be submitted to the populations concerned for a referendum, in keeping with the principle of self-determination and with the provisions of the UN Charter.
9. To this end, Morocco calls on the other parties to avail the opportunity to write a new chapter in the region’s history. Morocco is ready to take part in serious, constructive negotiations in the spirit of this initiative, and to contribute to promoting a climate of trust.
10. To achieve this objective, the Kingdom of Morocco remains willing to cooperate fully with the UN Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy.
II. Basic elements of the Moroccan proposal
11. The Moroccan autonomy project draws inspiration from the relevant proposals of the United Nations Organization, and from the constitutional provisions in force in countries that are geographically and culturally close to Morocco. It is based on internationally recognized norms and standards.
A. Powers of the Sahara autonomous Region
12. In keeping with democratic principles and procedures, and acting through legislative, executive and judicial bodies, the populations of the Sahara autonomous Region shall exercise powers, within the Region’s territorial boundaries, mainly over the following:
• Region’s local administration, local police force and jurisdictions;
• in the economic sector: economic development, regional planning, promotion of investment, trade, industry, tourism and agriculture;
• Region’s budget and taxation;
• infrastruture: water, hydraulic facilities, electricity, public works and transportation;
• in the social sector: housing, education, health, employment, sports, social welfare and social security;
• cultural affairs, including promotion of the Saharan Hassani cultural heritage;
13. The Sahara autonomous Region will have the financial resources required for its development in all areas. Resources will come, in particular, from:
• taxes, duties and regional levies enacted by the Region’s competent authorities;
• proceeds from the exploitation of natural resources allocated to the Region;
• the share of proceeds collected by the State from the exploitation of natural resources located in the Region;
• the necessary funds allocated in keeping with the principle of national solidarity;
• proceeds from the Region’s assets.
14. The State shall keep exclusive jurisdiction over the following in particular:
• the attributes of sovereignty, especially the flag, the national anthem and the currency;
• the attributes stemming from the constitutional and religious prerogatives of the King, as Commander of the Faithful and Guarantor of freedom of worship and of individual and collective freedoms;
• national security, external defense and defense of territorial integrity;
• external relations;
• the Kingdom’s juridical order.
15. State responsibilities with respect to external relations shall be exercised in consultation with the Sahara autonomous Region for those matters which have a direct bearing on the prerogatives of the Region. The Sahara autonomous Region may, in consultation with the Government, establish cooperation relations with foreign Regions to foster inter-regional dialogue and cooperation.
16. The powers of the State in the Sahara autonomous Region, as stipulated in paragraph 13 above, shall be exercised by a Representative of the Government.
17. Moreover, powers which are not specifically entrusted to a given party shall be exercised by common agreement, on the basis of the principle of subsidiarity.
18. The populations of the Sahara Autonomous Region shall be represented in Parliament and in the other national institutions. They shall take part in all national elections.
B. Bodies of the Region
19. The Parliament of the Sahara autonomous Region shall be made up of members elected by the various Sahrawi tribes, and of members elected by direct universal suffrage, by the Region’s population. There shall be adequate representation of women in the Parliament of the Sahara autonomous Region.
20. Executive authority in the Sahara autonomous Region shall lie with a Head of Government, to be elected by the regional Parliament. He shall be invested by the King.
The Head of Government shall be the Representative of the State in the Region.
21. The Head of Government of the Sahara autonomous Region shall form the Region’s Cabinet and appoint the administrators needed to exercise the powers devolving upon him, under the present autonomy Statute. He shall be answerable to the Region’s Parliament.
22. Courts may be set up by the regional Parliament to give rulings on disputes arising from enforcement of norms enacted by the competent bodies of the Sahara autonomous Region. These courts shall give their rulings with complete independence, in the name of the King.
23. As the highest jurisdiction of the Sahara autonomous Region, the high regional court shall give final decisions regarding the interpretation of the Region’s legislation, without prejudice to the powers of the Kingdom’s Supreme Court or Constitutional Council.
24. Laws, regulations and court rulings issued by the bodies of the Sahara autonomous Region shall be consistent with the Region’s autonomy Statute and with the Kingdom’s Constitution.
25. The Region’s populations shall enjoy all the guarantees afforded by the Moroccan Constitution in the area of human rights as they are universally recognized.
26. An Economic and Social Council shall be set up in the Sahara autonomous Region. It shall comprise representatives from economic, social, professional and community groups, as well as highly qualified figures.
III. Approval and implementation procedure for the autonomy statute
27. The Region’s autonomy statute shall be the subject of negotiations and shall be submitted to the populations concerned in a free referendum. This referendum will constitue a free exercise, by these populations, of their right to self-determination, as per the provisions of international legality, the Charter of the United Nations and the resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council.
28. To this end, the parties pledge to work jointly and in good faith to foster this political solution and secure its approval by the Sahara populations.
29. Moreover, the Moroccan Constitution shall be amended and the autonomoy Statute incorporated into it, in order to guarantee its sustainability and reflect its special place in the country’s national juridical architecture.
30. The Kingdom of Morocco shall take all the necessary steps to ensure full integration, into the nation’s fabric, of persons to be repatriated. This will be done in a manner which preserves their dignity and guarantees their security and the protection of their property.
31. To this end, the Kingdom of Morocco shall, in particular, declare a blanket amnesty, precluding any legal proceedings, arrest, detention, imprisonment or intimidation of any kind, based on facts covered by this amnesty.
32. Once the parties have agreed on the proposed autonomy, a Transitional Council composed of their representatives shall assist with repatriation, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of armed elements who are outside the territory, as well as with any other action aimed at securing the approval and implementation of the present Statute, including elections.
33. Just like the international community, the Kingdom of Morocco firmly believes today that the solution to the Sahara dispute can only come from negotiations. Accordingly, the proposal it is submitting to the United Nations constitutes a real opportunity for initiating negotiations with a view to reaching a final solution to this dispute, in keeping with international legality, and on the basis of arrangements which are consistent with the goals and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.
34. In this respect, Morocco pledges to negotiate in good faith and in a constructive, open spirit to reach a final, mutually acceptable political solution to the dispute plaguing region. To this end, the Kingdom of Morocco is prepared to make a positive contribution to creating an environment of trust which would contribute to the successful outcome of this initiative.
35. The Kingdom of Morocco hopes the other parties will appreciate the significance and scope of this proposal, realize its merit, and make a positive and constructive contribution to it. The Kingdom of Morocco is of the view that the momentum created by this initiative offers a historic chance to resolve this issue once and for all.
Here follows some reactions:
Ahmed Salem Lattafi, head of Unity and Citizenship Network
The Royal visit is undoubtedly a historic event par excellence, a balance between timeliness, significance and symbolism. One can say that the royal approach on the territorial integrity is historic at the political, economic and social levels. The right choice by His Majesty King Mohammed VI in terms of proximity policy and tracing the fate of projects programmed and the launching of new projects. The royal visit is stern response on the Algerian intentions and the separatist group that is trying to minimize the importance, seriousness and credibility of the Moroccan proposal, by establishing autonomy in the Sahara regions.
The same direction by His Majesty the King stresses that one can not imagine any solution to the territorial integrity issue outside sovereignty over the Moroccan Saharan regions. We should not forget that this situation also underscores the consensus of the Moroccan people to approach a negotiated political solution without compromising its sovereignty over its own territory, which was recovered thanks to its Green and peaceful March.
These are some of the political, economic and social challenges of the royal visit to Laayoune Boujdour region. I think it has enabled the international public opinion to stand significantly over the attachment of Moroccans to their unity, but formed mainly a response to separatist riots and showed that unionists are residents of the Sahara regions. The separatist group depends on children to stir up trouble and incite the Algerian government and military.
As for self-government, is due to the fact the issue has known a kind of stalemate. No proposal has satisfied so far Polisario and Algerian rulers for a political solution. Hence the royal wisdom to launch autonomy plan which is a national approach as sovereignty is undisputable and democratic, enabling the population to conduct their affairs on the basis of international legitimacy.
Autonomy will be discussed during the month of April at a special meeting on the national issue. On this basis, Al Kutla Parties submitted two days before a joint memorandum, in this regard, to emphasize national sovereignty over our territories under this proposal which may not follow a new approach beyond other experiences international. Let’s take the example of local governments in Spain and Germany. They maintain the sovereignty with all its symbols, including currency, flag, emblem, constitutional principles.. self-government is included in what is offered by Morocco as wide regionalization, in the sense that there are areas which involve citizens in managing their own affairs as expansion of democracy .
So, the proposed will be submitted to the United Nations that will oversee negotiations, because as we know, the proposal for a referendum on self-determination is buried with Baker’s resignation. It means that Baker’s previous plans recognized that the organization of the referendum is impossible due to the intransigence of separatists. The United Nations recognized the principle of a political solution acceptable to all. Morocco now takes the initiative and opens horizons for a solution where there is no winner or loser. The solution stresses Morocco's sovereignty over all its recovered territory, and saves the separatists’ face who are aware that Morocco will not give up its sovereignty. Algeria, not interested in the emergence of a State, but in its strategic interests is also aware of this reality.
Bouteflika has shown his intentions in this direction, by sending a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations, calling for division of the Sahara, which disproves his claims of self-determination, independence, or something like that.
Ahmed Herzenni Association militant
I think that the royal visit came at a good time. First it stresses the presence of Morocco in its Sahara and, second, it boosts developmental projects in the region and thirdly I think that its purpose is to renew the Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs. Fourthly, Morocco’s announcement of its readiness to grant Saharan regions self-government. This shows Morocco’s goodwill and its will to end this problem once and for all in a way that would satisfy the Moroccan people, and satisfy the people of the Sahara as well as international public opinion.
We hope Algeria, in particular, will accept this proposal because it is after all a proposal from Morocco, but in addition, responds to the desire of public opinion which is convinced that referendum is difficult to apply, making impossible. the UN position now opts for a solution agreed upon and negotiated by the parties concerned.
So, Algeria should have the wisdom to seize this last chance, to provide evidence that it has no ambitions in the region and it does not really want to adverse Morocco. Therefore, we hope Algeria will respond positively to this proposal because, in addition to being the only possible solution to the Sahara issue, it is also the way to build the Maghreb, which we desperately need in this circumstance
Today, the choice is clear between the option of regional peace, construction of the Maghreb and progress to the level of global competition and to stay on aversion and therefore doomed to remain in backwardness. Algeria is called upon more than ever to accept the first option. As for Spain it is a friendly country and should be interested in peace in the region. We hope that it will also have sufficient wisdom to support this project .
This proposal is the most that can be allowed by Morocco. Algeria has today the solution to make this processes go smoothly like any other system of self-government. I take it that the principle in itself is important because it unites the concept of national sovereignty and broad powers of the region’s rulers. The principle alone is important, on the other and, like all experiences of self-government that are taking place in the world it is subject to ongoing negotiations between the two parties, which are the State and regional authorities. I can say now we should give wide powers to self-rule in the Sahara regions on the basis that all other matters relating to sovereignty remain at the central authority.
In my opinion, the United Nations has recognized implicitly and publicly the failure of previous referendum attempts. The experience showed the impossibility to set regulations of who should be entitled to participate. The United Nations moved then to another direction towards a political solution negotiated between the parties concerned. Therefore, the United Nations should be logical by supporting and commending the initiative of Morocco, because it is in perfect harmony with the UN directives
Abdelhadi Tazi historian
First, I want to talk to you about two impressions, both related to the Sahara, visited by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, the first impression, related to what I've heard personally from the former Senegalese president Leopold Sedar Senghor, whom I met in 1980 among an important delegation headed by then Royal Highness Sidi Mohammed to transmit thanks of his father, Hassan II to Mr. Senghor concerning the position shown to the Sahara issue in the African Conference.
That is to say, the first diplomatic mission by His Majesty King Mohammed VI in Africa was to present thanks to an African country and its President, and since then, I’ve never forgotten and I will never forget the words of President Senghor addressing the then Crown Prince His Royal Highness Sidi Mohammed, saying to him “tell His Majesty that there is no need to thank me on my position, because it is my duty as a neighbour of Morocco, and a man who respects history and reality and stands by credibility, in Senegal, we did not hear an owner of the Sahara other than Morocco " .
This testimony was repeated by a statesmen and great president, stressing that the position of Senegal, which is always to support Morocco over the Sahara, has never been a position dictated by courtesy but the right of Morocco over its territory. The second impression is left by reading a book by the former Spanish ambassador in Morocco, Mr. Doula Cern, who lived in Morocco before transferring the file, he died a few days ago, this man came from a very important family and a man of science aware of what he says and thinks.
I remember this man who was a member with us at the Academy of the Kingdom, he has written a book and I hope to convey to the reader some of what is in it, and I quote because I want to focus on the value of what this man said in his book “Why are some people envious of Morocco for its Sahara? Why do they adverse it in this matter, while all its neighbors enjoy to live in their Sahara without problems? "
This testimony should be given much attention, because issued by a diplomat, belonging to the other party, a man with rare political immunity, we must take into account today, as we see these automatic events in the Sahara deep space with all its components.
After these impressions, I would like to turn to the content of autonomy. I’d like here to convey to you my own feelings, as I follow this unique visit through what I've seen in the features of our brothers in the Sahara rushing spontaneously to meet the country’s sovereign. They were expressing their feelings of a bright future, reflecting wholehearted happiness, among men and women, young people and children
They are very sure that this leadership of Morocco, which they knew in the past and know their credibility is the same today reflecting the father’s sympathy towards his sons and the brother’s kindness towards his brothers.