Moroccan king stands firm on autonomy plan for Western Sahara

Friday 13/11/2015
King: Morocco has given all there was to give

TUNIS - King Mohammed VI of Mo­rocco reiterated that he would not make any con­cessions other than the autonomy plan for the disputed Western Sahara.
“Those who are waiting for any other concession on Morocco’s part are deceiving themselves. Indeed, Morocco has given all there was to give,” the king said in a televised speech from Laayoune, the capital of Western Sahara on November 6th.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon two days earlier called for ne­gotiations to settle the dispute.
In 1975, then King Hassan II called on Moroccans to go on a “Green March” to free Spanish Sahara. About 350,000 men and women from across the North African coun­try responded and marched un­armed on November 6th of that year into the region of Sakia el-Hamra.
Spain was forced to agree to cede possession of the colony to Morocco and Mauritania.
Algerian-backed Polisario Front separatists, who have campaigned for independence for the territory since 1973, fought the Moroccan Army until the United Nations bro­kered a ceasefire in 1991.
Rabat has proposed wide au­tonomy for Western Sahara but the Polisario Front has rejected the pro­posal and insisted on the right of the Sahrawi people to determine their own future.
“This initiative is the maximum Morocco can offer,” King Moham­med VI said in a speech to mark the 40th anniversary of the Green March. “Morocco refuses any ad­venture with an uncertain result and that could be potentially dan­gerous.”
The monarch led a signing cer­emony of five agreements concern­ing the implementation of a de­velopment model for the southern provinces to improve the region’s infrastructure, including a desalina­tion plant in Dakhla and industrial zones in Laayoune, El Marsa and Boujdour.
He vowed that revenues from nat­ural resources “will continue to be invested in the region for the ben­efit of the local populations and in consultation and coordination with them”.
The king lashed out at countries calling for the boycott of Moroccan products because of the dispute with the Polisario Front.
The government in October said it was reconsidering allowing Swed­ish companies to operate in Morocco because of Stockholm’s plan to rec­ognise the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which claims sov­ereignty over Western Sahara. How­ever, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven denied that recognition of the SADR was on the table
“Morocco will also confront hos­tile campaigns against Moroccan products, building on the same spir­it of sacrifice and commitment dem­onstrated in the political and secu­rity sectors to defend its unity and immutable values,” said the king. “As for those who want to boycott our products, in blatant violation of international law, let them do so. However, they will have to assume the responsibilities for their deci­sions.”
Polisario’s planned SADR was rec­ognised by some countries from the African Union but no Western pow­ers recognised it.
The king criticised neighbouring Algeria for failing to improve living conditions for Sahrawi refugees in the Tindouf camp while spending billions on military and diplomatic moves against Morocco.
“For 40 years Algeria could not — or did not want to — build 6,000 housing units to safeguard their dig­nity. That amounts to an average of 150 housing units a year” he said in a reference to the 40,000 Sahrawi refugees who live in the camp.
“The people in Tindouf, in Al­geria, continue to suffer from pov­erty, despair, deprivation and the systematic violation of their basic rights,” King Mohammed VI said.