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Polisario confirms rejection of Baker plan

The POLISARIO Front, which is fighting for the independence of Western Sahara, has reaffirmed its rejection of a framework draft agreement for the future of the former Spanish colony that was proposed in June by UN envoy James Baker III, Polisario radio reported on 15 September. It said in a statement following an extraordinary meeting last week of its national secretariat that the draft was unacceptable.

Morocco annexed Western Sahara after the former colonial power, Spain, pulled out in 1975. The POLISARIO Front took up arms to seek independence for the territory, which it calls the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) and which is recognised by the Organisation of African Unity. Under UN mediation, both sides had agreed to a referendum that would allow the Sahrawi to choose between independence and Moroccan rule, but differences over who is eligible to vote have stalled the process for years.

The new proposed framework would allow the people of Western Sahara a certain measure of autonomy within Morocco, but defence, foreign affairs and the currency would reportedly remain under Moroccan control. It also provides for a referendum on the final status of the territory within five years.

The framework was discussed at a meeting on 27-29 August in Wyoming, USA, between Baker - the personal envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara - and representatives of the POLISARIO Front, Mauritania and Algeria. At that meeting, the POLISARIO's delegation objected to the framework, but said it would consult its leadership and get back to Baker.

On Saturday, the Front said it was committed to the referendum plan and called on Sahrawis "in the occupied territories to continue the resistance and struggle in all its forms until the Saharan people regained their freedom and dignity". It also reiterated its condemnation of last Tuesday's attacks in the United States and "the Saharan people's solidarity and sympathy with the US people and their institutions".

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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