UN to Suggest Alternative for Sahara Referendum

Published June 28th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The United Nations is expected to put forward an alternative to the much-delayed referendum on the future of Western Sahara at a new round of talks between Morocco and the Polisario independence movement, reported the BBC.online.  

There is no formal agenda for the talks, being hosted in London by the UN secretary general's personal envoy to Western Sahara, James Baker.  

But international pressure is growing for an alternative solution after more than 10 years of bickering over who is entitled to vote, said the BBC.  

Last month the UN Security Council called on Morocco and the Polisario Front to consider what it called other ways of achieving an early resolution of the dispute.  

One suggestion is a form of limited autonomy for Western Saharans under Moroccan sovereignty, said the BBC.  

The Polisario Front has already said this third way is no way.  

Its leader, Mohammed Abdelaziz, calls the self-rule suggestion an "international conspiracy against the Saharawi people".  

His guerrillas have already begun military preparations for a possible return to war.  

The dispute over Western Sahara has long disrupted trade and communication links across North Africa. To this day, borders between Algeria and Morocco remain closed; and it has left tens of thousands of refugees stranded in inhospitable Algerian desert, added the BBC.  

It is unlikely that the London talks will achieve an overnight breakthrough to one of Africa's oldest conflict.  

But it seems that the UN is beginning to shelve a referendum for an independent Saharawi state, according to the BBC - Albawaba.com  


© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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