By Samir Bennis
By Samir Bennis
Morocco World News
United Nations June 7, 2011
As expected by most analysts, the seventh informal talks on the Sahara between Morocco and the Polisario have ended this afternoon in Long Island, New York, without any progress. According to a communiqué issued at the end of the talks by the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the Sahara, Mr. Christopher Ross, “the parties reviewed the latest Security Council Resolution on the situation concerning Western Sahara, and in particular the new elements included in this Resolution. They underlined the central role of the negotiating process and discussed the new ideas put forward by the Secretary-General in paragraph 120 of his report (S/2011/249) and endorsed by the Security Council”.
According to the UNSG’s Personal Envoy, “the parties continued to deepen their discussions on the two proposals, including the issue of the electoral corps and mechanisms for self-determination. However, As in the six previous informal talks, “each party continued to reject the proposal of the other as a sole basis for future negotiation”, the communiqué noted.
“Morocco and the Polisario have also started a discussion on the ways to tackle the agreed topics for discussion, namely natural resources and demining, and have asked the assistance of the United Nations to propose a framework for reflection for future exchanges”, added Mr. Ross in his communiqué.
In his annual report to the Security Council (S/2011/249) Ban Ki-moon recommended three initiatives to Morocco and the Polisario in order to end the stalemate in negotiations and find a lasting and mutually acceptable political solution to the Sahara conflict:
First, that the parties find a means to include respected representatives of a wide cross-section of the population of Western Sahara inside and outside the Territory, formally or informally, in the consideration and discussion of issues related to final status and the exercise of self-determination;
Second, that the parties further deepen their examination of each other’s proposals and, in particular, seek common ground on the one major point of convergence in their two proposals: the need to obtain the approval of the population for any agreement. It is instructive in this regard that the proposals of both parties foresee, albeit in different form, a referendum that will constitute a free exercise of the right to self-determination;
Third, that the parties devote additional energy to identifying and discussing a wide range of governance issues with a view to meeting the needs of the people of Western Sahara and with the understanding that many aspects of these issues can be discussed without reference to the nature of the final status of the Territory, for example, how to structure its executive, legislative and judicial branches, how to organize and conduct elections and how to design primary and secondary education.
Held at the invitation of the UNSG’s Personal Envoy, the seventh round of informal talks was opened on Monday with the participation of representatives from Morocco, the Polisario Front, Algeria and Mauritania.
The next informal meeting will take place in the second half of July 2011 at Greentree, Long Island.