U.N. Security Council extends MINURSO mandate by two weeks
Morocco-UN, Politics, 5/3/1999
The United Nations Security Council on Friday extended by two weeks the mandate of the MINURSO, the U.N. Mission supervising preparations for holding a self-determination referendum in the Sahara.
The short extension that will end on May 14 is meant to give the council members enough time to examine the recommendations included in the report submitted by the U.N. secretary-general on the general situation in the Sahara.
In his report, made public on Thursday, Kofi Annan recommended a six-month extension of the MINURSO mandate.
He also set July 2000 as a new date for the referendum and a revised time-table of all operations related to the referendum. However, Annan links the success of the revised timetable to the acceptance by the two sides (Morocco and the Polisario) of the package of proposals to resume the identification of potential voters in the referendum on June 1, 1999 and the appeals procedure one month later.
The referendum would give persons of Sahrawi descent an opportunity to say whether they want the Sahara, a former Spanish colony retrieved by Morocco in 1975 under the Madrid accords, would stand on its own as claimed by the Algeria-backed Polisario movement or remain integrated within Morocco.
The issue of identification and appeals (of persons who were denied the right to be included in the voters' lists) has been a major obstacle to the holding of the voting.
The new identification would cover "contested tribes," to whom the Polisario is denying the right to vote.
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