Polisario has the choice between autonomy or to stay in Tindouf Camps
The Chairman of the Royal Council for Sahara Affairs (CORCAS), Khalihenna Ould Errachid said, here Wednesday, that the Algerian-backed Polisario separatists have only two choices: to accept Morocco's autonomy proposal for the Sahara, or to stay in the Tindouf camps, southwestern Algeria.
Speaking to the press at the end of the two-day 3rd round of negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario on the future of the Sahara (Morocco's Southern Provinces), held in Manhasset, New York outskirts, Mr. Ould Errachid ruled out any possibility of holding a self-determination referendum in the Sahara.
"We have asked the Polisario the following objective question: Do you want a solution, or do you want to stay in Tindouf? and the Polisario failed to answer," CORCAS head said.
Mr. Ould Errachid described as "frank" the talks and discussions between the parties taking part in these UN-sponsored negotiations to find a solution to the 32-year-old dispute over the Moroccan Sahara. Yet, he stressed the obsolete nature of the referendum called for by the separatists, who still don’t have the freedom to discuss deeply, and to make the required decisions.
He underlined that Morocco’s autonomy plan – the country is proposing to grant substantial autonomy to the Sahara region – is also addressed to the Polisario leaders, who can undertake responsibilities part of this autonomy, under Moroccan sovereignty.
The Polisario leaders, the official added, can be involved in the management, provided they succeed in establishing the necessary mechanisms to implement the autonomy plan in accordance with the international legality.
This is the right to self-determination, as seen by Morocco, which conforms with the latest resolution of the UN General Assembly, he underlined.
Mr. Ould Errachid called upon Algeria, which provides full support to the Polisario separatists, to play a more positive role, and to grant some freedom of action to the Polisario, which should be able to negotiate freely the autonomy proposal, because “the Polisario is settled on the Algerian soil, and Algeria provides it with funds, and as such, Algeria has always the last say.”
The CORCAS chairman voiced hope the Algeria-backed Polisario would be able to help push forward the situation towards a solution, and that Algeria would adopt a more coherent position that takes into account what is agreed upon at the international level, and what it does on the field.
He also deplored the Polisario threat to return to arms, adding that: “we have warned the Polisario that Morocco will not accept, under whatever conditions, the threats against its security and territorial integrity.”
“The Polisario knows today that Morocco will not accept this, and I think (…) that it has somewhat retracted, and it has understood the message.”
As to the forthcoming tour of the UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy for the Sahara, Peter Van Walsum, in the region, the chairman of the CORCAS said this visit would enable Mr. Walsum to take note of the positions of the other parties, particularly Algeria and the Polisario, whom we hope would change their attitude and engage in serious negotiations with a view to settling this conflict.
- Statement by the President of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, following the press conference:
They were thinking that this project is a maneuver and does not afford a place for all Sahrawis, including the Polisario Front. When we explained that the project is directed to the Polisario and all Sahrawis to, including the Polisario Front, and that the Polisario Front can as a front and as members and officials participate in autonomy. Secondly, with respect to governance within this, it will be discussed when adopting autonomy.
In response to a question concerning of freedom and human rights in the southern provinces, Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid said:
The current situation now in Morocco in general, and in the southern provinces, in particular, shows a situation of wide freedom of expression and the freedom to think and especially for those who sympathize with the thesis of the Polisario Front and travel across the world in the name of the Polisario Front, carrying a Moroccan passport and then returning to live in the region.
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