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Sunday, December 6, 1998 Published at 14:03 GMT


Background

Chronology of the Saharawi struggle

The Saharawi refugees are locked out of Western Sahara

1884 Beginning of Spanish colonial occupation of the Western Sahara.

1965 UN General Assembly calls for independence of the then Spanish Sahara.

1973 Foundation of Polisario independence movement which begins armed struggle against Spain.

1975 International Court of Justice declares that the people of Western Sahara have the right to self-determination. On 6 November King Hassan of Morocco orders 350,000 volunteers to cross into the territory - the "Green March". Spain agrees to hand over the colony to Morocco and Mauritania.

1976 Spain pulls out. Polisario declares the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic. War Begins.

1979 Morocco annexes south after Mauritanians pull out.

1981 Morocco begins building fortified wall.

1988 Morocco and Polisario accept UN peace plan.

1991 Ceasefire begins, monitored by the UN.

1992 Referendum delayed following disputes about who is eligible.

1996 UN suspends registration of voters blaming both sides for problems.

1997 Deadlock broken following talks in Houston chaired by James Baker, former US Secretary of State.

1998 Referendum set for 7 December. Suspended after further disagreements.

1999 December - referendum on independence or integration into Morocco?



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