Sahara issue: Spanish party says referendum is no viable solution
Morocco-Spain, Politics, 7/19/2004
Spain's socialist party (PSOE -in power) said Friday "a referendum is no viable solution to the Sahara issue, for it can not be held until it suits all parties' interests, with no winner nor loser."
The Sahara issue is opposing Morocco to the Algeria-backed Polisario secessionists, who claim separation of the kingdom's southern provinces. The Sahara is a former Spanish colony, retrieved under the 1975 Madrid accords.
In the current political context, imposing "by force" the holding of a self-determination referendum will be "counter-productive," the party's international policy secretariat said in a release.
The referendum had to be organized more than a decade ago, but it was put off for many reasons, mainly the disagreement on the electorate composition, PSOE went on.
The socialist party affirmed that the Spanish government wants to push for "a concerted settlement" to the conflict and "will play a more active role" in seeking to "bring the concerned parties' positions closer."
Under the latest version of the draft Peace Plan for the Sahara, drawn up by the former UN secretary general's special envoy for the Sahara and former US Secretary of State, James Baker, Sahrawis (local population) would be granted immediate self governance, followed by a referendum on independence within five years.
Such a consultation has become impossible to organize because of problems encountered in the process of voters identification.
Moroccan foreign minister, Mohamed Benaissa, told a Spanish TV channel lately he had handed, in person, to the UN Secretary general, piles of documents containing the names of persons who were registered as voters, while their brothers were not.
This situation, he explained, has led the UN Security Council to recommend a negotiated political solution instead.
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