Sahara issue in decisive turning point says Moroccan minister
Morocco, Politics, 1/4/1999
The Sahara issue is currently going through a decisive turning point, despite some positive aspects, a Moroccan minister said.
The positive aspect of the issue resides in the proposals made recently by United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, on the identification of would-be voters in the projected self-determination referendum, Mohamed El-Yazghi told Al-Ahram daily.
The referendum, set for next December, is designed to determine whether the Sahara --a former Spanish colony retrieved by Morocco in 1975 under the Madrid Accords-- sets up on its own as claimed by the Algerian-backed polisario movement or be incorporated into Morocco.
El-Yazghi deplored the pressure exerted by the other involved parties to the Sahara issue "to change the course of the referendum."
The referendum, proposed by Morocco in the 1980, is botched up by the Polisario's multiplied obstacles to hinder the identification of would-be voters. Convinced that the referendum will end their fallacious allegations, the separatists are doing their utmost to shrink the voters lists.
El-Yazghi also denounced the Polisario's position denying some genuine Sahrawi tribes the right to be identified, and said such an attitude blatantly violate the Houston Accords on identification criteria.
The U.N. has so far identified 147,000 Sahrawis as would-be voters, while the Polisario separatists still oppose the identification of some 65,000 Sahrawis.
Mohamed El-Yazghi also dwelt on the issue of Sebta and Mellilia, two Moroccan Mediterranean cities still controlled by Spain. The issue has witnessed no new development except the creation of a Moroccan-Spanish MP commission, he said. This rekindles hope that the issue will be examined by the two countries' parliaments.
Polisario denies a substitute plan replacing the referendum
Security Council extends term of UN mission in Sahara
Spanish policeman rapes Moroccan girl in occupied Mellilia
Arab Lawyers support Morocco's right to retrieve Sebta and Melillia
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