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Sunday, 16 September, 2001, 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK
Polisario rejects UN peace plan
James Baker
The latest UN proposals were presented by James Baker
By David Bamford in Rabat

The Polisario movement, which has been campaigning for an independent state in the Western Sahara for 26 years, has formally rejected a new United Nations peace plan.

The plan, proposing political autonomy for the region, was intended to replace an earlier proposal to resolve the issue of sovereignty by a referendum.


The Polisario called on Saharans to continue the resistance struggle in all its forms

Western Sahara has been under the control of Morocco since 1975.

The latest UN proposals were presented in detail just under three weeks ago by the special envoy on the Sahara issue, former US Secretary of States James Baker.

The key proposal was to replace the long-running idea of a referendum by a political arrangement whereby for the next five years the Western Sahara would operate as a semi-autonomous territory.

Morocco would keep its sovereignty and hold onto many of the key portfolios, including security, justice and economic affairs.

Waste of time

But a statement issued on Sunday by the Polisario national secretariat states that Mr Baker's draft agreement was unacceptable and a waste of time.

Kofi Annan visiting Western Sahara
An earlier UN plan said a referendum would be held after five years of autonomy
It called on Saharans to continue the resistance struggle in all its forms.

That struggle has included over a decade of all-out war, though the guns have been mostly silent since 1991 when both sides agreed in principle to resolve the issue through the referendum of self-determination, a policy which Polisario insists must be maintained.

The vote has never been held because of persistent disputes on who should be allowed to take part.

The UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has put his weight behind the Baker plan, but he is apparently at odds with some key members of the UN Security Council.

See also:

31 Aug 01 | Africa
Polisario mull UN peace plan
19 Apr 00 | Media reports
Morocco's TV clampdown
07 Jan 01 | Africa
Polisario withdraw rally threat
17 Jun 00 | Africa
Annan meets Moroccan king
07 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Morocco
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