Sahara: Spain drops self-determination, calls for mutually acceptable solution

Sahara: Spain drops self-determination, calls for mutually acceptable solution

Spain has made-a volte face giving up on a referendum for self-determination in the Sahara in favor of supporting UN efforts to reach a political and mutually acceptable solution to the dispute opposing Morocco to the Algerian-backed Polisario separatists.

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez stressed in his speech before the UN General Assembly the central role of the UN in seeking a “political, fair, lasting and mutually acceptable solution” to the Sahara conflict.

Spain is willing to contribute to the UN Secretary General’s efforts in line with UN Security council resolution, he said.

Sanchez speech this year refrained from citing self-determination as an option signaling the increasingly close Moroccan-Spanish relations on a host of fronts.

On the sidelines of the General Assembly, foreign Minister Nasser Bourita met Sanchez and discussed with him a range of issues of mutual concern including the Sahara.

Spain is Morocco’s first trading partner. The two countries cooperate on a range of issues including security and migration.

The General Assembly was also an occasion to stress Morocco’s attachment to the autonomy initiative, which the UN Security Council described as “serious and credible.”

UN Security Council resolutions emphasize the importance of “realism” and “compromise” without making reference to the principle of “self-determination” much to the disappointment of the Polisario and its mentor Algeria as the UN makes it clear that self-determination does not necessarily mean either a referendum or independence.

In 2007, Morocco put forward the autonomy initiative after the organization of a referendum proved to be unfeasible in view of disagreements over who is eligible to vote.

The autonomy initiative offers the Sahara exclusive powers with regard to managing local affairs within the framework of Morocco’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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