Morocco's diplomacy was not active enough to explain Morocco's position on Sahara, minister says
Morocco, Politics, 3/10/1999
A Moroccan minister said the Moroccan diplomacy was not active enough to explain Morocco's position regarding its southern provinces.
Mohamed Yazghi, minister of environment, urbanism and housing, told L'Opinion daily that the "the Moroccan diplomacy started to move in the few past weeks."
"H.M. King Hassan II received Morocco's ambassadors to the member countries of the Security Council and urged them to explain the Moroccan position to these states," he said.
Other diplomatic missions were dispatched to African countries in the perspective of the meeting of African foreign ministers in Addis Ababa and the summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Algiers next July, Yazghi added.
Yazghi refuted "the propaganda mounted by the enemies of Morocco who tend to present the Kingdom as the side refusing the referendum in the Sahara."
Morocco accepted the United Nations settlement plan whose implementation requires "an attitude of equity" on the part of the world body, he said.
The referendum, proposed by Morocco in the early 1980's, seeks to determine whether the Sahara, a former Spanish colony, sets up on its own as claimed by the Polisario or remains within its homeland, Morocco.
The vote bogs down in difficulties created by the Polisario, which seeks to shrink the voters lists through excluding thousands of genuine Moroccan Sahrawis.
"It is impossible to accept that Moroccan Sahrawis be excluded from the voters' lists, for the mere reason that the separatists do not want them to participate in the referendum," Yazghi insisted.
King Hassan II said last week that "Morocco sees no other option to the referendum" in the Sahara and remains attached to the United Nations settlement plan.
In a speech to the nation on the occasion of the Throne Day (March 3), the King stressed that no Sahrawi should be denied the right to express his opinion, as long as he meets one of the five identification criteria, adopted by the United Nations. The sovereign also voiced backing to all the efforts made in this direction by the United Nations Secretary-General.
Touching on the return of refugees from Algeria and Mauritania to Morocco, Yazghi said this mission is shouldered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (HCR), which had Morocco's agreement to open an office in Laayoune, southern Morocco.
"We categorically reject that the Polisario speak on behalf of the refugees. The HCR should discuss with each one of these refugees," he said, adding that the refugees should be returned to the places of their origin and not as the Polisario wishes.
The Polisario seeks to group the refugees in the same place, between the Moroccan defense belt and the international borders, he said.
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