Western Sahara
Still no progress in Western Sahara

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UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan

«There has been no progress in the implementation of the UN Settlement Plan.»

Kofi Annan

afrol News, 25 April - United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today reported that there "has been no progress in the implementation of the United Nations Settlement Plan for Western Sahara," but recommended that the UN mission in the country be extended for two months to allow the parties to explore a possible solution. 

However, the UN Secretary-General believes that "substantial progress has been made toward determining whether Morocco is prepared to offer or support some devolution of authority for Western Sahara that is genuine, substantial and in keeping with international norms." Mr. Annan gave no details.

That recommendation is contained in Mr. Annan's latest report to the UN Security Council on the mission, known by its French acronym MINURSO, which was first deployed in 1991 to conduct a referendum for the people of Western Sahara to choose between independence and integration with Morocco.

According to the report, while there has been no advancement in overcoming obstacles to the Settlement Plan, there has been some progress in determining whether Morocco, as the administrative power, is prepared to offersome devolution of authority for the present and previous Sahrawi inhabitanthat is genuine, substantial and in keeping with international norms. The majority of the original Sahrawis and their descendants live in refugee camps outside their territory.

The two-month extension, through 30 June, should be used to provide time for consultations on a possible devolution of authority, the report says, according to a new release from the UN. The report still not has been released. 

Mr. Annan makes his proposal at the recommendation of his Personal Envoy, James Baker III, who in recent months has been "able to fully re-engage in trying to assist the parties to find an early, durable and agreed resolution to their dispute over Western Sahara." Previously, Mr. Annan reported that Mr. Baker had been required to undertake duties in relation to the 2000 United States Presidential election. 

According to a UN spokesman, the Security Council is expected to consider the report during consultations on Thursday. MINURSO's mandate is set to expire on 30 April.

In response to questions, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy have been exploring with the parties whether there is any mutually acceptable resolution to their dispute. "That effort does not imply any retreat from the Settlement Plan," he said, commenting earlier speculations.

Annan also in October 2000 could see no progress in Western Sahara, thus concluding that, "Regrettably, I cannot report any progress in overcoming the obstacles to the implementation of the United Nations settlement plan." Still, the UN mission was extended for another four months, until February 2001, and later in February, until 30 April.

Sources: UN sources and afrol archives

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