Morocco denies separatists' participation in non-aligned movement meeting in Durban
Morocco-Algeria, Politics, 5/4/2002
A senior official from the Moroccan foreign department has flatly denied the participation of any Polisario delegation in the ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), held in Durban, South Africa, April 27-29.
The denial came in response to an official Algerian news report circulated lately mentioning the conclusions of the Durban meeting on the issue of the Moroccan Sahara and stating that the SADR (Sahrawi republic) was represented at the meeting by Ould Salek.
The official, who was part of the Moroccan delegation to the Durban meeting, made a clarification-statement to MAP saying "I deny, in the most categorical way, any form of participation of the separatists in the ministerial meeting proceedings."
He explained that the "Polisario" had actually asked, few days ahead of the meeting, the South African government to attend the Durban meeting as "a guest." When consulted about the matter, several member countries have clearly voiced opposition to this participation and to the Polisario being invited.
This rejection was notified to all the NAM members, the Moroccan official said, adding that despite this rejection, the Polisario delegate attempted to take part in the meeting but all his stratagems failed.
"To avoid any manipulation and shield the NAM against such maneuvers, the Moroccan delegation, led by secretary of state for foreign affairs and cooperation, Taib Fassi Fihri, drew South African authorities' attention to their responsibility as the host country of the meeting and recalled the regulations and well-established practices of the NAM regarding the statute of guest.
So, no Polisario delegate was allowed to attend the meetings, the Moroccan official insisted, voicing amazement that a dispatch of the official news agency of a member country can circulate so such misleading and fallacious news.
The said agency has therefore deliberately truncated the text adopted by the NAM ministerial meeting on the issue of Morocco's national issue, irrespective of the conclusions approved by the Non-Aligned Movement, the official said.
Actually, besides the traditional reference to the U.N. settlement plan, the NAM countries' ministers expressed, for the first time, their backing to the quest of a political solution to the issue, a solution accepted by the parties in accordance with the U.N. charter and the relevant resolutions.
These resolutions, as is known, explicitly refer to the draft framework accord, proposed by the Personal Envoy of the U.N. Secretary-General.
Seeking to induce the public opinion to err, the dispatch also distorted the reality by pretending that the NAM ministerial conference "denounced the looting by Morocco of the Sahrawi natural and sea resources."
The delegations, present at the Durban meeting, did not fail to note that the debate on the Sahara once again took a bilateral character, the Algerian being the sole representative to intervene without restraint on the topic.
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