Senior Moroccan delegation participated on August 10 and 11, 2007 in Manhasset in the second round of negotiations aimed at finding a final political solution acceptable to all parties to the regional dispute over the Sahara.
The delegation is composed of: Chakib Benmoussa, Minister of Interior, Taib Fassi Fahri, Minister Delegate for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Khalihenna Ould Errachid, head of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, Mohamed Yassine Mansouri, Director General of the Studies and Documents, Mohamed Saleh Tamek, Wali of Oued Eddahab Province and Moulainain Khalihenna Secretary General of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs. The delegation was accompanied by a number of high-ranking officials and experts from the southern provinces of the Kingdom.
This important participation comes in the context of the desire of the Kingdom of Morocco to ensure the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1754 which set a radical break with previous schemes and proposals, and clearly outlined the way to put an end to this dispute.
It also translates renewed commitment by the Kingdom and its sincere desire to start serious and specific negotiations in order to reach a final solution to this regional dispute on the basis of the Moroccan self-government initiative under the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Kingdom.
The Kingdom of Morocco, which has made serious and credible efforts according to by Security Council to launch this new momentum, takes part in this round of negotiations and is motivated by the same sincere political will, the same determination, according to the principles and guidelines contained in the Speech of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, on the occasion of the eighth anniversary of the Throne Day.
Members of the Moroccan delegation to the second round of the Sahara negotiations which took place the 10th and11th of august at Manhasset, suburb of Newyork, expressed their optimism, and confidence in the on going process, regretting the stiff position of the other party.
Morocco confident and optimist, regrets the stiff position of the other party
During the two day talks at the Greentree residence, under the supervision of the UN discussions tackled the basic points concerning the Moroccan autonomy initiative, according to members of the Moroccan delegation, during a press conference in New York.
“We consider the first round as a contact round, the second one dealt with the mechanism of putting into practise the 1754 resolution of the UN, in relation with the autonomy” underlined the interior minister Mr Chakib Benmoussa.
Morocco agreed in principle to take part in the third round of negotiations, he said, as to the date and place remains to be decided “we are confident as to this process, and we hope that the next round will allow improving the Polisario’s position” he added.
Concerning the role of neighbouring countries, the minister considered that Algeria and Mauritania could contribute to reach a settlement to this problem”.
“We consider that the presence of neighbouring countries at these talks is important. Algeria is concerned by this dispute, because it shelters Tindouf refugee camps in its soil, and we know the extent of influence that this country practised on Polisario.Mauritania, for its part has got a big number of Sahraouis, which explains its link with this issue» he added.
The Moroccan minister regretted that the high commission for refugees (HCR) was not able to take a census of the camps populations who live in deplorable conditions.
As to the chairman of the royal advisory council for Saharan affairs (CORCAS) Mr Khalihenna Ould Errachid, he reminded that the failure of a number plans in order to reach a solution led to an impasse and to appeals from the international community to the parties to formulate new proposals.” Morocco has taken the initiative to come up with a courageous and innovating plan whereby there will be no winner and no looser” indicated Mr Khalihenna Ould Errachid, deploring that polisario remains prisoner of a backward-looking vision based on obsolete and unrealizable projects. The other party did not understand the spirit of the1754 resolution of the UN, calling for a political solution based on the Moroccan proposal.
In the same context Mr Taieb fassi Fihri underlined that the Security Council has clearly indicated that the responsibility of the settlement of this issue rests with the parties concerned and neighbouring countries, whereas the role of the UN is limited to facilitate the process of negotiations. The autonomy initiative proposed by Morocco was favourably welcomed by the international community which greeted the credible and serious efforts made by the Kingdom of Morocco, he added.
Going back to the progress of the negotiations Mr Fihri explained that in parallel to the the essence of discussions, the UN experts have presented reports concerning the main questions in relation with the autonomy within the framework of the Moroccan territorial integrity, such as management of natural resources, and local governance.
In this respect the Moroccan delegation indicated that the second round was positive compared with the first round, hoping to see the polisario revising its position in view of the next round.
As to the managing director of “studies and documentation” Mr Mohamed Yassine Mansouri, he indicated that although the one-sided of the statements made by members the polisario to the press, throughout the two day negotiations period, these talks were positive”.
as far as the Moroccan delegation is concerned this second round constitutes an important step, and a positive evolution, as it permitted to examine and discuss the fundamental points concerning the essence of the Moroccan initiative” explained Mr Mansouri who, added "Morocco is determined to go ahead with patience , because we would like to see this initiative of autonomy succeeded”
Interview at Aljazeera's "Hiwar Mubasheer" Program
Mr. Ould Errachid, who was invited by Al-Jazeera Live channel on Tuesday 13 August 2007, said that the autonomy initiative offers solutions that are realistic and applicable, "satisfies Sahrawis including " Polisario "as part of the Saharan population, and satisfies Algeria because of historical links, and the responsibility that rests on its shoulders in this case, and is consistent with the international community's desire to find a political solution that would satisfy all parties as stated by UN resolution 1754".
He noted that Morocco has "made significant concessions when it adopted the initiative of autonomy, because it believes that the only way is that each party should give up some of its demands, so that we will not remain in a closed circle of the non applicable demands
"The autonomy initiative will change a lot of things, it will allow the Sahara several economic, political, cultural and social rights; they will have a government, parliament and Supreme Court led by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, who wish to solve this problem once and for all."
Mr. Ould Errachid said that "the issue of the Sahara is not a question of decolonization, but rather a political problem requiring concerted efforts by all parties concerned to reach a final solution," stressing that there is no document of the United Nations or the Arab League or the Organization of Islamic Conference, or the European Union indicating it is a liquidation of colonization.
He pointed out in this regard that the liquidation of colonization existed between Morocco and Spain before the creation of "Polisario", since Morocco was among the African countries which witnessed double French and Spanish protectorate, where Spain controlled northern and southern cities of the Kingdom, noting that the recovery of these territories came in stages, including the Sahara.
Mr Ould Errachid concluded that "the claim to carry out identification process in a region marked by colonialism meant standing unrest between tribes and sub-tribes, and between neighboring countries, given the existence of Sahrawi citizens from Algeria, Mauritania, and Mali; they belong to Saharan tribes."
The Program Presenter: You came from the Sahara and you returned to Morocco and you met with members of the Polisario front. From a psychological point of view, how did you receive the negotiations and how did they start and how did they end?
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: The psychological side of these negotiations is part of the problem. And we can say with confidence that in this regard there are still some big psychological obstacles between the parties concerned, obstacles that hamper us in our entering negotiations based on good faith and a strong desire to reach a final solution to this issue which has lasted over one third of a century.
The negotiations that have been taking place since last June in the first and second round are still based on past considerations as to the psychological aspect, human relations and the perspective that such negotiations should have if we want to talk about real reconciliation.
The Program Presenter: The Minister of the Interior likened these negotiations to a serialized film that is being built segment by segment. The question is who is the director? Who are the characters? And how will this show end?
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: As you know, The Sahara issue is one inherited essentially from the past dispute between Morocco and Algeria and it is based on the outcome of the cold war that swept the Arab World, the African Continent and the whole world. This problem is the result of the cold war. Definitely, there are other considerations related to Morocco’s domestic policy and to old differences that date back to Morocco’s independence in 1956 and domestic reconciliation. In fact, this is another aspect that has impacted this question, but in truth it is not the main one, because the issue has been intensified due to other reasons that are unrelated to the fundamental one. However, it is worthwhile mentioning here that the problem under negotiations for a solution had known other attempts in the past and since its inception, really. In fact, Morocco and Algeria have tried since the seventies to settle this dispute that has tarnished the brotherly relationships between the two countries and that has introduced a state of lack of trust in our region of the Arab Maghreb. As you know, since Morocco’s independence and since the launching of the diplomatic process to liberate the Sahara and all the other Moroccan territories that were under Spanish occupation…
The Program Presenter: Sorry to interrupt you, but we will come back to these historical considerations every once in a while for reference. Now, to stick to the subject of Algeria you said in one of your media declarations that Algeria is not party to the conflict and that the Sahara issue is a Moroccan issue which has taken international dimensions. On another occasion, you said that the Algerian attitude will improve gradually and that everything should be left to time. Don’t you feel you are contradicting yourself in your media declarations on the question of the Algerian Involvement?
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: No, I am not relating the past for the sake of the past. Rather, I wish to relate parts of the past to arrive at the reality we are living today, whether the matter concerns Algeria or the Polisario front. During all the stages of this conflict, Algeria has always tried to reconcile its differences with Morocco and thereby put this problem behind them. You know that during the Arab Summit held in Rabat in 1974 and attended by all kings and heads of states of the Arab World, the late President Houari Boumadiane declared that (and this is still in The Arab League’s documents) he had no objection to, and in fact he supported the agreement signed then by Morocco and Mauritania to put an end to the colonization of the Sahara. Also up to the moment when (I will come back to your question on the attitude of Algeria) military operation were launched, there was some mediation between the late King Hassan II and the late Houari Boumadiane towards the end of 1977, and a meeting between the two was going to be held in Brussels in 1978 had it not been for the death of Houari Boumadiane. After that when President Chadli Benjdid assumed power, there was a meeting between the late Hassan II and Chadli Benjdid in 1983 on the Moroccan Algerian border; the two leaders then agreed to follow a peaceful road to solve the conflict of the Sahara. Unfortunately, those attempts did not succeed due to internal reasons in Algeria.
The Program Presenter: With your permission, we will come back to these details because we have some callers on the line.
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: Please let me finish; these details are very important to understand…
The Program Presenter: We will you give time to do so
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: Important…
The Program Presenter: With your permission, I will give you more time to talk; I will have to receive some calls now. Oum Killy, Good afternoon from Spain.
Oum Killy: Good afternoon
The Program Presenter: Good Afternoon, Go ahead with your question please.
Oum Killy: I would like to thank Al Jazeera for its work and the host country of Al Jazeera…
The Program Presenter: Thank you.
Oum Killy: …For the importance you give to truth in Arab society. You express the truth that cannot be hidden. I would like to ask Khalli Henna Ould Errachid if he likes to exchange Spanish colonization for Moroccan colonization and fight for it. Shame on him; he is not a Sahraoui if he likes Morocco. His interest is in Morocco. If he likes Moroccans, he is then with Morocco and with the king of Morocco. He should leave us alone; we have been struggling for 35 years. We have lost our brothers, our children, our cousins, and many have been injured due to Moroccan colonization. Shame on him for talking like this: it is so that he can defend his interests in Morocco, live in Morocco and become a friend of Morocco. Shame on him; history will brand him with shame: A Sahraoui who defends a colonizing aggressor that kills. Two or three weeks ago a Sahraoui woman, Malika’s eye was put out by the Moroccan police. Shame on him; he has no dignity. If Moroccans like their interest and their country, why should not he, the Sahraoui do likewise and like his and love his nation if he wants to regain his honor or have any soul.
The Program Presenter: Thank you Oum Killy; we have got your idea, thank you.
Mohamed Derham from Morocco, Good evening
Mohamed Derham: Good evening, sir.
The Program Presenter: Welcome, brother.
Mohamed Derham: How are you?
The Program Presenter: I am fine, thank you. What is your question?
Mohamed Derham: Thank you. I just want to listen to you
The Program Presenter: Thank you for your call
We stay in Morocco; Ahmed Ibrahim, Good evening Ahmed.
Ahmed Ibrahim: Good evening, Sir.
The Program Presenter: Welcome, Go ahead, Ahmed.
Ahmed Ibrahim: Can you hear me, sir?
The Program Presenter: very well.
Ahmed Ibrahim: First of all I would like to thank the program presenter and Al Jazeera Channel, the platform of Arabs for this opportunity that was given to us. I also thank Mr. Khalli Henna Ould Errachid, our role model, our hope and our torch bearer. My talk will be brief: Self rule is the best approach to this dilemma of the Sahara issue. The international consensus, in supporting the Moroccan initiative, is ample proof for the validity of the Moroccan proposal to solve this conflict that has hampered the Maghreb development. We sincerely hope that both parties will reach an accord that is satisfactory to everybody, whereby no one is winner and no one is a loser. Thank you.
The Program Presenter: Thank you.
Abdelouahab Belfkih from Morocco, good evening.
Abdelouahab Belafkih: Good evening, sir
The Program Presenter: Welcome, Go ahead.
Abdelouahab Belafkih: Thank you, sir, I would like to speak about the region and people who want to create a different picture concerning the security situation in the Sahara region. These are lies. I did not have a chance yesterday to talk to Mahfoud Al Biba on various subjects. I take this opportunity now to clarify certain points: Those who speak about the security issue and say there are security violations. Al Jazeera Channel, thank God, has an office in Morocco. It can go and see for itself the Sahara and how security is conducted in the Sahara. Thank God, there are no violations. The Sahraouis have full rights and the proof is that you find them as members of the Royal Consultative Council for Saharan Affairs, the crème of the Sahraoui tribes; you find also human right activists and labor unions members. The proof is that Khalli Henna Ould Errachid, President of the Royal Consultative Council, has a wide experience and very well known. And since the time when Spain wanted to create a ghost state, Khalli Henna has known….
The Program Presenter: Thank you, your idea is understood. To come back to you, our dear guest, the lady from Spain asked the question about this transition from one colonizer to another one. It is known that you too used to live in Spain and that you even created a political party that called for independence and then you returned to Morocco and met the king. How do answer this lady?
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: First I would like you to grant me some time to clarify things.
The Program Presenter: Go ahead.
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: You have not let me finish my idea. The audience surely understand neither the beginning nor the end of this program. I will answer the lady, but first let me go back to what I was saying before concerning your question on Algeria. I said that attempts to solve this problem were always in progress between Morocco and Algeria. The meeting between the late King Hassan II and President Chadli Benjdid in 1983 began to yield solution signs. Afterwards there was the Algerian proposal presented to King Hassan II by the Algerian Foreign Minister at that time, Dr. El Ibrahimi, in 1985 suggesting self rule for the Sahara. However, that project did not succeed as it did not take into account the Moroccan principle of sovereignty. There was also the mediation undertaken by the late King Fahd Ibn Abdelaaziz in 1987 which led to King Hassan II’s visit to Algiers in 1988, when it was agreed to leave aside the Saharan issue and to concentrate on building the Arab Maghreb, a thing which was achieved in February 1989 in Marrakech. So the attempts to solve this problem made sometimes by Morocco, sometimes by Algeria, have never come to an end even during the worst moments in the two countries’ relationship. The same thing is true for….
The Program Presenter: Of course Mr. Khalli Henna…
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: Excuse me…
The Program Presenter: Please, let us move on with this dialogue, because if we open these historical chapters, we will never finish.
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: Good
The Program Presenter: I would like you to answer the audience. And I don’t want for example to ask you the question that the Moroccan Algerian difference. Algeria talks about a decolonization process; while Morocco puts forward the question of legitimacy and rights.
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: But,you have asked me …
The Program Presenter: Please answer the questions
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: Please, let me…
The Program Presenter: Go ahead
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: Give me some time to clarify my ideas, because if you keep interrupting me, this will create confusion and will prevent the audience from understanding my point; and the discussion will not be conducted properly.
The Program Presenter: Go ahead
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: You asked me about Algeria. I said the negotiation process was not over when the late President, Boudiaf, came to power. He wanted to find a final and lasting solution to the Sahara question. So the attempts to find a solution between us and Algeria did not stop. This issue is both a direct and an indirect one. Basically, the Sahara question is an internal problem affected by external factors, such as the Moroccan-Algerian border dispute, the cold war, and African conflicts. All of these factors have worsened the difference and given it dimensions other than its natural ones.
So, there were attempts on the part of both Morocco and Algeria, as well as attempts with the
Polisario, whereby they met with the late King Hassan II twice in 1996. Unfortunately, they did not succeed to seize the golden opportunity at that time during the reigning atmosphere back then between Algeria and Morocco during…
The Program Presenter: The Arab Maghreb Union
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: During the Arab Maghreb Union. Today, in the new process, we want, quite naturally, to go back to the past; we do not want this new attempt to fail like all the other attempts before it. Rather, we want it to succeed for the benefit of everyone. We want to leave aside the thorny questions to which we could not find any answer in the past, that is to say the question of eternal principles, false approaches and erroneous premises. If we leave these things aside, we will definitely arrive at the much-hoped for solution, the solution we are negotiating about and which Morocco was the first to put on the table.
The Program Presenter: Let us go back to…
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: Regarding the lady’s question, you like her. In fact, this lady’s ideas are mixed up. She asks why I am a Sahraoui who defends Morocco. I do so because I defend truth, I defend history, I defend blood ties, kinship and historical relationships which link the Sahara people to Morocco across history. More than that, Sahraoui people ruled Morocco, through the Almoravids, for one century; the Sahraouis played different, successive roles over a long period.
The Program Presenter: You…
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: I reject off hand her idea that the Sahara is colonized by Morocco. I lived under Spanish colonization and she does not know what colonization is like. The question of the Sahara, and this is one of the falsehoods that have led to a lot of misunderstanding between Algeria and Morocco and that have pushed the Polisario front to harbor many fallacies, is definitely not a question of decolonization. There is presently no document at the United Nations, or the Arab League, or the Islamic Conference or with the Europeans that point to the fact that the present question is one of decolonization. The truth is that it is a political conflict that needs to be solved. Hence, decolonization had existed even before the existence of the Polisario as an organization. The question of decolonization existed between Spain and Morocco. And the Sahara problem was not the only one that existed between Morocco and Spain. There were the questions of Tan Tan, Tarfaya, Sidi Ifni, Tangier, and the North of Morocco, as Spain and France were the two countries that colonized Morocco. Morocco was one of the rare African countries that were victims of double colonization by two powerful European countries; that is why he had to fight to gain its independence from France, and he had to fight to gain its independence progressively and over numerous different stages from Spain and then the Sahara question is one such fight.
The Program Presenter: Mr. Khalli Henna, Even some…
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: Excuse me a moment please, I would like to tell the lady, my sister, if she is from the Sahara, she is my sister and I greet her warmly and I tell her, sister, if you saw today Laayoune, Dakhla, Boujdour and Smara, you would not say that Morocco colonizes the Sahara, you would not say that the Sahara of today is the same one that existed during Spanish presence. Morocco has regained part of its territory and has deployed great efforts to make its sons and inhabitants happy and to bring joy into their hearts, a joy they did not live under Spanish occupation, the real occupation that lasted from 1884 to 1975.
The Program Presenter: Mr. Khalli Henna Ould Errachid, I would like to ask questions to continue with our interview. Some people accuse you of not having played your role to have an impact on the Polisario members and to make these negotiations succeed.
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: Who says so?
The Program Presenter: Some observers, some Moroccans see that you have not exercised your entire influence on the Polisario front to achieve success in these negotiations.
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: The success of negotiations is the responsibility all the parties concerned, Morocco, the Polisario and Algeria. I
Will tell what, in my opinion, each side should do to make these negotiations succeed. First of all, Morocco has had the necessary courage and the appropriate historical decision to put a solution on the table, a solution that is simply a theoretical one that cannot be implemented. Morocco had put forward, through the Royal Consultative Council for Saharan Affairs, which I am honored to presides, a solution which had been studied, planned, organized and presented to His Majesty the King who approved it. This solution is honorable to all parties concerned.
The Program Presenter: If, during the negotiations, the Polisario rejects it, what will Morocco’s response be in this case?
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: Let me say something before the Polisario rejects it. Why has Morocco presented this self rule solution?
considering that it is a difficult one and that it is also a difficult and courageous bet. Morocco has presented this solution out of consideration for all parties and out of consideration for the claims of the Polisario as part of the Sahraouis.
The Polisario are our brothers and relatives. They are part of us, and we are part of them. This is what Algeria always used to claim. What the international community claims is a consensual political solution that is satisfactory to all parties. Why is Morocco presenting this solution now? It is, brother, because all previous solutions had failed: The referendum based on identity determination can in no way be implemented. The attempts that took place, like the one of 1985, and which was designed to affect the eternal principles governing Moroccan sovereignty, cannot be implemented. So, let me tell you, we are in front of the Polisario dilemma, the Algerian dilemma and the world community dilemma. What is then the solution to the present crisis? Are we going back to the previous situation that we were in before? Or are we going to remain enclosed in a vicious circle of impossible claims from which there will be no exit? Or are we all going to be realistic politicians and make concessions as to the ceiling of our claims. Morocco has made great concessions: it has made compromises on the Sahara government, the parliament, the supreme court, and on economic matters. It has made concessions on everything that would please the Sahraouis in terms of historical, political, economic and social claims. Morocco, under the leadership of His Majesty King Mohamed VI, has made all of these concessions in good faith because it really wants to see this problem solved. However, what I want to know, as a Sahraoui, one who has lived this problem since its beginning, and I know the mistakes committed by the Polisario in the past, is why does not the Polisario engage in serious negotiations to find a solution. Why does the Polisario stick to matters that it knows from experience that they have failed? It has tried such option for 32 years and found that they lead only to failure; War failed…
The Program Presenter: Mr. Khalli Henne, sir…
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: And it brought only disaster to the region, yes…
The Program Presenter: With your permission, we will receive some calls and we will get back to you.
Moulay Ahmed from Morocco, Good evening, Go ahead if you please.
Moulay Ahmed: My name is Moulay Ahmed Touhali from Laayoune, the largest city in the Sahara.
The Program Presenter: Welcome
Moulay Ahmed: First of all, I would like to thank you for this program that sheds light on this region that has undergone a lot
Of suffering, that is to say the problems that have befallen the Sahraoui people. As a Sahraoui, confirmed by the identity determination officials who supervised the census concerning the referendum’s electoral lists, a referendum that I believe cannot be implemented, I see that the only solution for the Sahara issue is self rule offered by Morocco to its Saharan province. This self rule, gentleman, is considered as real self determination, because it will allow the Sahara inhabitants to manage freely their own affairs and riches. That is why I see that it is time to close this file on the basis of the Moroccan proposal and to stop looking for inappropriate solutions that will throw everyone in uncertain tunnels that can only lead to a waste of time.
The Program Presenter: Thank you Moulay Ahmed
Moulay Ahmed: I thank Mr. Khalli Henna Ould Errachid, who rightfully represents us and defends us in international venues.
The Program Presenter: Thank you, we have got your message.
Mrs. Allal from Spain, Good evening, go ahead if you please, sister Allal
Mrs. Allal: Good evening
The Program Presenter: Good evening, go ahead, if you please.
Mrs. Allal: First of all, I would like to thank Al Jazeera for having given me this opportunity. I would like to ask Mr. Khalli Henna Ould Errachid a question and I would like to have a truthful answer before the whole world. You, the Moroccans, always say that your brothers, the Sahraouis, want to join Morocco, but they are sequestered by their leadership and Algeria. Let us see before the whole world if you are sincere; let us adopt the solution presented by the Sahraouis in the negotiations, namely the referendum for the region, so that you can prove to the whole world if the Sahraouis really want to join the Kingdom of Morocco or prefer to continue living in the camps under harsh natural conditions or prefer living under Moroccan rule. This is all I have to say.
The Program Presenter: Thank you, Mrs. Allal
Mr. Boujemaa from Morocco, Good evening Mr. Boujemaa
The Program Presenter: Go ahead if you please, Mr. Boujemaa
Mr. Boujemaa: First of all, Good evening, I would like to say something to the international public at large. The question is whether Morocco really wants a real solution to the Sahara question. I, personally, met Mr. Khalli Henna Ould Errachid in the city of Guoulmim in the presence of all theTegna tribes, civil society and political parties. I then presented him with a new idea, in addition to the current ideas that talk about self rules in the world as they are presented by Rotla and the German Offi Hawter. It was a new idea and he made a promise in front of all the Tegna tribes that he would give me a chance to talk about this idea both inside and outside Morocco. Unfortunately, he has not kept his promise. I, therefore, hold him responsible and accuse him of conspiring against the Sahraoui cause. And this is high treason against the Moroccan people, the Maghrebi people and the international community. We went before the whole world and told him that we were ready to consider a new project that leads to a solution that would be honorable for all parties. But he has not done anything; therefore…
The Program Presenter: Thank you Mr. Boujemaa.
Jamal Saidi from Cyprus, good evening,
Jamal Saidi: Good evening,
The Program Presenter: Good evening, go ahead with your question,
Jamal Saidi: Morocco has made enough concessions. However, we have not seen any concessions on the part of the Polisario front whose attitude has never changed and has never made any breakthrough. I believe that the Polisario leadership see that things should be either black or white; that is to say they categorically don’t believe in a middle-way solution. In the past, Moroco used to call for complete integration. Now, however, Morocco accepts enlarged self rule as it is the case in Spain and other European countries.
A question to the honorable guest: In the event the negotiations fail, will Morocco grant the citizens self rule even if it is not accepted by the Polisario front? Thank you.
The Program Presenter: Thank you, sir. Mr. Khalli Henna, you have heard the questions on identity determination. How have you dealt with this issue, and whatever has happened to it?
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: The subject of identity determination and the referendum based on identity determination. Identity determination leads to internal discord. Whoever calls for identity determination calls for permanent internal discord between tribes, districts and countries. Because as the lady who asked the question knows, the Sahraouis are not found only in Morocco. They are found in Algeria, with Algerian nationality, but they belong to our tribes and they are our relatives and cousins. The same thing is true in Mauritania and Mali. To hold Identity determination for a region whose borders were traced by colonizers is like calling for permanent and endless discord. The African continent, brother, is rife with discords between tribes. Take any region in Africa and you will find that disputes are no longer ideological disputes. Rather, they are all tribal ones: in central Africa, in the south, in the east and in the west. So, we need to avoid this solution. Referendum cannot be implemented technically, politically and legally. That is why we need to adopt realistic, possible and practical solutions that can be implemented. What is required of these solutions is that they be satisfactory to all parties, to the Sahraouis first because they constitute the basis of the dispute. We believe that the self rule project submitted by Morocco adequately meets the needs of the Sahraouis. The Polisario, then, needs to negotiate to improve it. It is incumbent upon the Polisarion front to do so. It also meets the needs of Algeria because it is for it a way out of its historical responsibility as it requires itself. And this is what the world community seeks to achieve as they have indicated so in the last 1754 decision by asking the parties to find the much hoped for political solution.
The Program Presenter: Mr. Boujemaa accuses you of betraying the cause and says that he has a project but has not had the opportunity to present it; I am not sure whether he has ever met you.
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: He said that I have betrayed the project he had presented. I don’t remember this project. Probably when I next visit Goulmime, God willing, I will ask to study it, God willing.
The Program Presenter: The last question from Morocco also: In the e vent of failure of negotiation, will Morocco grant the Sahraouis self rule?
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: No, Look, we come to the negotiations in good faith and we never presume that they will fail, nor do we wish for them to fail. So, we cannot pass a prior judgment. In the experience of the two rounds, we noticed that the Polisario still needs some time to organize its business as to the necessity to study and examine 32 years of attempts that have not yielded any result. They need to understand that there is no need for our brothers to remain in the Tindouf camps any longer; they also need to understand that this is a historical, golden opportunity that they must seize to reach a satisfactory and honorable solution. Definitely, self rule does not humiliate the Polisario or the Polisario leaders or Algeria. It is an honorable solution. Naturally, this is life and this is god’s will in His creation. In private life, in public life and in mostly politics, one cannot achieve a hundred percent of one’s claims. This is no way possibel in any country in the world. We, therefore, believe that self rule is a leap forward to solve the Sahara problem.
The Program Presenter: Mr. Ould Errachid, to put the audience in the picture of negotiations: Algeria and Mauritania were present there as observers. What was their presence like? Did you notice, you the Moroccan delegation, that the Sahraoui delegation used to consult with anyone during the negotiations? What role did the Mauritanian delegation play in this regard?
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: Algeria, more particularly, is concerned more than Mauritania because they host and sponsor the Polisario. Let us speak frankly; the Polisario is based on Algerian land and has strong ties with Algeria and the latter defends the cause of the Polisario. So, Algeria is concerned more than Mauritania by this issue.
The Program Presenter: Did you notice any clear intervention or influence on the part of the observing Algerian delegation on the negotiating Sahraoui team?
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: No, let me clarify this point. Algeria used to say that they are not concerned directly with the Sahara conflict. Rather, they said that their presence is justified by the fact that they are a neighboring country that hosts the camps of the Polisario front and so on and so forth. They, then, hold on to what they have been preaching, that is to say that Morocco and the Polisarion should negotiate directly and talk about settling the dispute and solving the problem. So, Algeria has achieved what it always wanted. However, the United Nations and the world community ask Algeria to exert its influence on their allies in the Polisario front to be realistic in their claims and to reach an acceptable agreement with the Kingdom of Morocco on the question of self rule. This degree of positive Algerian intervention has not been reached yet in the first two rounds. I hope that in the next round, and incidentally its time and place have not been determined yet, contrary to what the Polisario indicated when they said that the next round would take place in Europe. The parties concerned will later discuss the venue and the date.
The Program Presenter: The Moroccan Minister of the Interior said that the venue is contingent upon the agenda of the meeting. We come back to you and to other questions. But first allow me to get these calls
Khadija from Morocco. Good evening, sister Khadija
Khadija: Good evening
The Program Presenter: Go ahead with your question
Khadija: Peace be upon you
The Program Presenter: peace be upon you too; go ahead, sister.
Khadija: Greetings to our distinguished guest, Mr. Khalli Henna Ould Errachid. I would like to say that it is a great honor for us that he speaks about a position that all Sahraoui young people agree upon, namely self rule which we, young people, consider as the only solution that will work within the framework of the Algerian Moroccan confrontation over the Moroccan Sahara issue. We ask Mr. Khalli Henna to explain to us what young people will get from this self rule.
The Program Presenter: Thank you sister Khadija.
Ould Laarbi from Spain, good evening.
Ould Laarbi: Thank you. (Bad connection, hardly heard),
The Program Presenter: Thank you very much; we apologize for the quality of the sound that comes out unclear from its source.
The Program Presenter: Sister Khadija wonders what will the youth get out of self rule if it is adopted by both parties-unemployment, the job market, etc, that is to say young people’s preoccupations.
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: This is a good question. First of all, the region, as everybody knows, has known great progress over the past 30 years. Of course with self rule the economic, social and political situation will change, especially that which concerns young people. The Royal Consultative Council held a special session last May devoted to youths’ issues and problems. However, naturally, all Sahraoui youths, in the camps and overseas, are concerned by self rule, because self rule will change the characteristics of the Sahara, politically, economically, socially and culturally. It will put the Sahraoui at the forefront of the elements that make up our country as a developed thriving region. We have high hopes and our hopes are pinned on the fact that no Sahraoui will ever think of sabotaging this historical project which all Sahraouis should rally themselves around. On this occasion, I say that no party, be it the Polisario, or anyone who has rejected this solution for many reasons, can be allowed to cause this project to fail, because this project is that of the Moroccan nation, the King, and the whole region which has undergone a lot of suffering and pain for many years, especially those among our brothers, sisters and children unlawfully rotting in camps in inhuman conditions, for no political, strategic or negotiating reasons. For these reasons we say that they should go to their own homes and families.
The Program Presenter: Mr. Khalli Henna Ould Errachid, we have two minutes left in the program and I, in turn, would like to ask you a question: Do you believe that the United Nations will continue sponsoring the negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario front.
Khalli Henna Ould Errachid: If I had my wish, this will be a long process, because negotiation is what is required of us, of all the parties. And all the parties have expressed their will to negotiate, but to negotiate to arrive at a solution and not to disagree on the objectives. We will continue negotiating; we want negotiations and so do the Polisario front, Algeria and the United Nations, whose main responsibility is to promote peace and to find solution to all conflicts around the world. Negotiations, however, need to lead to a solution, especially in the Arab Maghreb region. We are lagging way behind in building the Arab Maghreb; we are much further behind than other regions. There is no reason not to take a decision, neither for the Polisario leaders, nor for Algeria which has found what it has always sought, nor for the United Nations to bring lasting peace to the region by the adoption of the self rule project that will be satisfactory to everybody. Then and only then will we go into are of development and essential responsibility to bring happiness to our people and to our families.
The Program Presenter: Thank you Mr. Khalli Henna Ould Errachid, member of the delegation that was negotiating in USA with the Polisario front. Thank you all who have contributed to this discussion. Thank you, our audience for your attention. Good bye
Ban Ki-moon: Second round of Sahara negotiations made "deep talks" possible
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that the second round of negotiations on the Sahara provided an opportunity for the parties to conduct "deep talks”
Mr. Ki-moon said in a statement made during a press briefing at United Nations Headquarters in New York, "that, despite the lack of tangible progress during these negotiations, the parties held two deep two day talks " at the meeting held at Manhasset, between Friday and Saturday.
He added that "what is important at this stage is that the parties agreed to continue dialogue."
"I will continue to encourage the Parties concerned to continue dialogue, my Personal Envoy urged to continue his role as a mediator," he added.
Delegations from Morocco, Polisario, Algeria and Mauritania took part in the second round of negotiations on the Sahara, which took place in the presence of the United Nations mediator, Mr. Peter van Walsum
Sahara issue: Full text of Morocco's speech during the second round of negotiations
Here follows the full text of Morocco's speech, delivered by Moroccan Minister of the Interior, Chakib Benmoussa, during the second two-day round of negotiations, which started on Friday in Manhasset (the outskirts of New York), under the aegis of the United States:
Your Excellency the Personal Envoy,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I should like first to extend my sincere thanks to the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, and the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary General, Mr. Peter Van Valsum, and his close aides, and through them to the United Nations and all those dealing with this issue, for their steadfast efforts to reach a mutually acceptable and equitable political solution, and to establish peace, security and stability in the Maghreb Arab region.
On behalf of the Kingdom of Morocco, I would like to thank all friendly countries for their unwavering efforts, commending their will to make this process possible and continued with a view to reaching a consensus-based political solution through a constructive and candid dialogue.
On this occasion, the accompanying delegation and I are pleased to meet, once again, our brothers with whom we are bound by blood, brotherhood and share a common destiny in a democratic and unified country that is our motherland Morocco.
We are also happy with the presence of our Algerian and Mauritanian brothers in this meeting. We have no doubt that they will contribute to the success of this process that is crucial for our peoples, and will facilitate efforts to reach a consensus-based political solution, that will usher in a new era of hope to the peoples of the region, and will help overcome differences of the past that still constitute a stumbling block to the edification of the project of the Arab Maghreb Union, a dream we hope will come true by overcoming this obstacle.
With the same positive spirit and optimism with which we have taken part in the first round of negotiations on June 18-19, 2007, we assure you that we have come here with the same ambition, and with a firm resolve to push forward the negotiations, and put them on the right track, without any conditions or prejudices.
The presence of the Moroccan delegation in the second round of negotiations reflects Morocco’s genuine commitment to cooperate with the United Nations in order to put an end to this problem that has lasted too long, and in response to the will of the international community and its call for working to ensure the success of this negotiation process.
Our presence in these negotiations also attests to Morocco’s resolve to guarantee the full implementation of resolution 1754 of the security Council, which constitutes a radical break with the past plans and proposals, through a clear-cut approach to put an end to this problem. Morocco, which has made great sacrifices to create this dynamics, will see to it to protect this momentum in order to reach a negotiated settlement.
Through its participation in this meeting, Morocco shows its will to stress the policy of openness and reconciliation and to reach out to our brothers who represent the Sahrawis who suffered and still suffer from separation. Morocco also calls upon all neighboring parties concerned by this conflict to work towards achieving the necessary rapprochement to overcome this crisis and put an end to the suffering endured by our brothers who live in the Tindouf Camps in sisterly Algeria.
Believing in the virtue of dialogue, and in conformity with the participatory approach it adopted from the beginning, meetings were held, following the first round of talks, at the level of parliament and the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs (CORCAS) as well as locally with the dignitaries of tribes and elected representatives at all levels, to brief them on the negotiations process and to reiterate their contribution to this continuous process.
In this connection, the King’s address on the occasion of the Throne Day crowned a continuous process and reiterated Morocco’s high-level commitment to reaching a win-win consensus-based political solution on the basis of Morocco’s offer of autonomy, the whole autonomy and nothing but the autonomy, as a framework for self-determination under Morocco’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Morocco has come to this round of negotiations, backed, as it has been and will forever remain whenever its territorial integrity is concerned, by the nation’s unanimity and its lively forces, in particular the population of the Southern Provinces which represent the majority of Sahrawis and which have contributed with its proposals, viewpoints, and constructive and objective observations, to laying the grounds of the Moroccan initiative for the negotiation of an autonomy statute in the Sahara, deemed by the Security Council and the International Community as serious and credible. Morocco is also backed in its bold positions by the world influential superpowers, because they realize very well that this initiative constitutes the ideal reasonable and realistic solution to this problem, a political solution that is conform to the resolutions of the Security Council and the International Community’s will, and constitutes a consensus-based ground that is face-saving for everybody.
We also enter into this round of negotiations fully aware of the historic responsibility that falls upon our shoulders and which compels us to meet the aspirations of the population of the region and the peoples of the Arab Maghreb and their hope to overcome the impasse that has lasted for three decades, because of some parties’ stubbornness to stick to positions and plans that were proved to be inapplicable, as was realized by the international community, and which by no means can constitute a way-out to the crisis.
While the first round of negotiations has helped make contacts and open the door for dialogue, communication and meeting, we hope that efforts, in the second round, will pave the way for serious, substantial and constructive negotiations, in order to reach a consensus-based solution, and we have great hopes that our brothers seize this unique opportunity and grasp its impact with a view to finding a final solution to this conflict.
We also hope that this round provides the opportunity to discuss Morocco’s initiative, described alone as serious and credible, and we are ready to enter with our brothers into a discussion about all the details concerning autonomy, and we are all ears to any constructive proposals and amendments, and to any ideas, viewpoints and explanations that are wished by the other parties in good faith, realism and wisdom, within the framework of the mutual respect, the free and sincere commitment, with the support of all the parties concerned by the conflict, in particular our Algerian brothers and neighbors, with the aim of achieving reconciliation and reaching a consensus-based solution based on autonomy as a consensual and applicable solution.
Your Excellency the Personal envoy,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are continuing our participation in these negotiations, firmly believing that the initiative of autonomy is the right way towards the peace of the brave, as it constitutes a genuine start for dialogue and negotiation in order to find a common ground and work to rid the Sahara issue of all the complications that are no longer justified.
The Moroccan delegation reiterates its attachment to the initiative of autonomy, hoping that this negotiation process will move forward, and that dialogue will focus on this comprehensive proposal that is, at the same time, open and flexible, and provides the opportunity for other parties’ contribution to reaching a consensus-based solution.
In this regard, the Kingdom of Morocco voices its sincere commitment to implementing a genuine autonomy that meets the world standards.
The autonomy initiative that Morocco is presenting constitutes a historic opportunity to get our region out of tension and narrow political calculations. It is also based on the experiences of neighboring countries in this field, and conforms to the Security Council resolutions. It is this very initiative that has launched this negotiation process, created this fresh momentum, and paved the way for the search of a final solution to this conflict. It falls to us to implement it in a responsible and realistic manner, and to deal with it in a positive and optimistic way and a promising future-oriented view, as a realistic ground and a reference for the negotiations.
The Moroccan proposal is characterized by clarity, transparency, boldness and realism. In addition to its being open and flexible, the initiative can be discussed and enriched to enable the Sahara inhabitants to fully exercise their constitutional and political rights, and to preserve their cultural specificities, their lifestyle and their traditions, as part of a framework that suits them, unites their families, and shields the region from any threats and challenges. The initiative also conforms to Morocco’s conception established at the regional and international levels and which is based on constructive dialogue and fruitful cooperation.
You all know and are convinced that the Sahara problem would not have existed without the maneuvers of the colonial powers which divided Morocco, and without the conflicts caused by the Cold War.
The colonial era ended thanks to the sacrifices of the people of the region and all the Moroccan people, attached to the Alaouite Throne by eternal allegiance (Baiaa), and the Cold War period is over, and many countries in the world got united for the good of their peoples, and it is our right to hope that our region will overcome these difficult moments and take the path of unity, reconciliation and concord.
Morocco’s offer meets the Sahara inhabitants’ aspirations and enables them to play a key role in the different structures of the State and all the bodies and institutions of the autonomous region, under the kingdom’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the ultimate goal being the edification of a Morocco strong with its democratic and economic reforms, and which will be stronger with your return and your adherence to its democratic approach, because you are its own sons, and because your parents were and are still living in it and are proud of belonging to this country.
The democratic approach that Morocco has irreversibly chosen is open to all trends and orientations, and affords all sensibilities the right to express their viewpoints and their aspirations, and achieve their hopes under national and territorial unity and the respect for the Kingdom’s assets and constants. The experience Morocco is living today proved the total integration of the sons of the Saharan Provinces into all the State’s institutions, where they enjoy a honorable representation, and contribute along with the rest of their brothers in the North to the edification of the new Morocco, which is strong with the unity of its sons.
Your Excellency the Personal Envoy,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Kingdom of Morocco can only hope the other parties will realize the depth and extent of this historic opportunity, which aims at establishing peace, security and stability in the region.
Surely, the fact that you show a spirit of responsibility, like Morocco that made sacrifices to unite its sons, will make you deal positively and constructively with the autonomy initiative submitted to you. It represents a suitable ground and a political solution likely to rectify the historical mistakes caused by colonialism and the cold war, respect the international legality and take into account the political reality that nobody can ignore.
We also expect our brothers in Algeria to be up to this historic event, and they are up to that whenever they show a will for unity, and to look to the future, that of the Arab Maghreb and the aspirations of its peoples to unity and solidarity.
Morocco, which has made enormous sacrifices and shown much flexibility and openness, calls on the other parties to show the same will in order to come up with a win-win solution. We are firmly confident of the possibility of reaching such a solution should the other parties decide to make the first step towards this end.
This can only be made possible by earnestly engaging in substantial and true negotiations that enable us to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution, so that we can devote our efforts to development and face up to the increasingly growing challenges and threats which are, unfortunately, likely to further deepen, given the current dissension and discord, if we fail to unite.
It is a source of sadness to note that the Sahel region, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to East Africa, is turning into a breeding ground for international terrorism and a haven for criminal and smuggling gangs. Terrorist groups have taken advantage of the dissension of the Maghreb to infiltrate into our region, easily settle in it and use it as a springboard to carry out its activities against its targets, thus jeopardizing not only the stability of the Arab Maghreb countries, but also that of several European states. This situation requires all the countries of the region to respond to their leaders’ welcome of Morocco’s call to engage in a common action and co-operation to tackle such challenges and counter the scourge of terrorism threatening everybody.
Your Excellency the Personal Envoy,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The international community is expecting us to come up with a positive outcome from these negotiations, and calls on us to move forward, to be future-oriented and to break with stubborn stances. The consensus-based solution requires the other party to break with the past, and get rid of obsolete concepts that can only cause the impasse to continue, and can never contribute to making progress in these negotiations.
The countries that commended this initiative now hope our meeting will confirm what we have started to establish together in June, to continue setting up the milestones of a new era in the history of our region, and to prepare the ground for a political solution in conformity with the Security Council resolutions and the international legality.
The history of the region gave us ample lessons that stubborn positions over more than three decades have only created more problems and dissension. The world attests to the fact that Morocco has lived up to its responsibility towards establishing peace and concord in our region, and shown sincere will in this respect. The other parties must as well shoulder their responsibilities, because the Sahrawi families are fed up with the continuation of this conflict, which separated their sons, and they no longer bear further separation. They are yearning for the moment in which they see an end to this division and discord.
Your Excellency the Personal Envoy,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Considering the failure of the previous proposals and plans that proved to be inapplicable, we firmly believe that the Moroccan initiative, with its non-negotiable constants, as they are not preconditions but assets adopted by the Security Council as it described them as serious and credible, constitutes the unique political solution to this dispute. The alternative is not between the principle of independence and autonomy; rather, it is between a special autonomy status as a final consensus-based solution within the framework of the national sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Kingdom and the continuation of the impasse, with its repercussions on the Maghreb Arab region. The autonomy proposal is a comprehensive and non-selective offer. It is also a thorough and indivisible proposal. It is the basic ground for negotiations, and the indispensable way-out for this process.
Stressing its attachment to its territorial integrity and its full non-negotiable sovereignty, Morocco recalls that it is one of the fundamental and sacred constants on which Morocco's identity and its time-honored assets are based and which we cannot, on any account, give up or subject to any sort of negotiation. These sacred constants have been and will always be enjoying firm national support on the part of all the components of the Moroccan nation, at the top of whom the Sahrawi tribes, including Sheikhs, notables and representatives of the Sahara population with its different components and elected bodies, who contributed their constructive proposals to developing this initiative. This nation would not have been able to take its roots in the history and face up to the challenges and maneuvers, had the Moroccan people not been always attached to their sacred values, namely defending their territorial integrity and national sovereignty.
While Morocco recalls these constants, and reiterates its attachment to them, this does not, however, prevent from reaching out to reconciliation and concord, as long as the ultimate goal is to bring an end to this issue and achieve unity. We will always be reaching out to the other parties to seize this historic opportunity, an opportunity that we would like to be a victory for all the parties and for the law and the legitimacy, and an opportunity to make fraternity and good neighborliness prevail.
Your Excellency the Personal Envoy,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The proposals whose aim is to sow division among the population on the basis of extremist options will create more problems and cannot constitute an acceptable solution that ensures lasting peace and stability in the region.
In the name of fraternity and national bonds that will always be uniting us whatever the differences in points of view, I urge you to come back to reason.
In the name of history and the unity values of religion of Islam which requires us to show solidarity, and in the name of the challenges of the present and the inevitability of the future which can have no prospects if we fail to unite and show solidarity, I call your conscience to reconsider your positions and accept the hand of peace extended to you to bring to an end this tragedy which we are required to work in concert to achieve this goal.
Let us all be up to the responsibility incumbent on us, and to this event and the expectations of the sons of our people, in the South and the North alike. We are now before our conscience, and only history will judge each of us. Hence, I hope we will take the good path and make history, to the benefit of the future generations. Only through the autonomy initiative proposed by Morocco as a basis for negotiations can we achieve this goal.
The doors of your motherland are open to you, more than ever. Strong by its sons' resistance, the justness of its cause and its permanent will to make sacrifices, Morocco reaches out to peace, fraternity and love and offers the autonomy initiative as a ground for reconciliation and a gateway towards a bright future where there is no victor, no vanquished.
I reiterate that this initiative is first and foremost a ground for discussion and give and take, open to enriching within the framework of constants that Morocco cannot give up. The matter which is not open to negotiation is the Kingdom's national sovereignty, territorial integrity, constants and sacred values. Apart from this, everything is open to negotiation as long as the ultimate goal is to reach a consensus-based and mutually acceptable political solution, which is likely to get our region out of tension and impasse, and allows for hope and cooperation among the peoples of our great Maghreb.
May Allah help us serve the interests of our people.
Wassalamu alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh.