By Loubna Flah
By Loubna Flah
Morocco World News
Casablanca, February 2, 2012
The 37th European coordinating conference of support to the Sahraoui people (EUCOCO) will be held from February 3 – 5 in Seville, Spain. The event will bring together European activists represented by committees and support organizations. The participants are expected to debate over the Sahara conflict. The congregation aims at forging a staunch and comprehensive approach that would be submitted to the European Union and the United Nations to advocate the right of self-determination of the Sahrawi people. The Polisario Front, who claims sovereignty over the Sahara, is trying to lobby for measures against the alleged exploitation of resources in the Southern provinces by Morocco.
The participants want to strike a chord with the Europe Union in order to freeze any agreement with Morocco that involves the Sahara territories. In fact, the Polisario Front and supporting NGOs are endeavoring to promote the status of the Sahara as a disputed area and not as an integral part of Moroccan territory. Many associations will take part in the event, namely the European Coordination of Support for the Saharawi People (TASK FORCE), The Saharawi Representation in Europe and Spain, The Coordinating Committee in Spain and the Association of Friendship with the Saharawi People of Seville. The EUCOCO organizers are capitalizing on the enthusiasm that has been displayed by the Andalusian parliament, the Provincial Government of Seville and the Andalusian Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AACID), which have rallied to the Polisario cause.
The SADR president Mohammed Abdelaziz is expected to deliver the conference opening address on February 3rd and the final declaration to be issued on Sunday, February 5th. The organization of the EUCOCO in Seville, is considered as an act of defiance to the Moroccan authorities.
The event is expected to galvanize the Spanish political intelligentsia over the Sahara conflict resolution. By engaging Spanish local officials and local civil associations, the organizers envision confronting Morocco with a firm stand on the Sahara issue. Obviously, the pro-Polisario lobby has found its way to the European institution after the European parliament stood months before, adamantly opposed to the renewal of the fishing agreement between Morocco and Spain on the grounds that the southern provinces where Spanish vessels are stationed are parts of a disputed area. The pro-polisario lobby could permeate the European legislative body and influence economic decisions.
While the pro-Polisario junta knocks on the doors of international institutions, Moroccan civil associations remain locked in a state of lethargy. The defense of national interest remains confined within a shrunken community of intellectuals who are well informed about the conflict and its ramifications.
Mr. Mohamed Reda Taoujni, a strong advocate for Morocco’s territorial integrity says that “it is abnormal that Moroccan NGO’s do not channel their efforts to defend Moroccan claims on the Southern provinces”.
In fact, there is a large vacuum in the promotion of national integrity in education and in the mainstream media. This state of ignorance at the domestic level undermines the national momentum over the Sahara conflict besides lending more weight to the separatist claims before international leading organizations, namely the United Nations and the European Union. The conflict remains appropriated by the Moroccan authorities, whereas the Moroccan citizen does not have a say on the issue despite its paramount importance. Meanwhile, the Polisario is perseverant in advancing its separatist claims, seeking to win hearts and minds in the international scene.
To stem the tide of the pro-Polisario campaign, Morocco should campaign for its territorial integrity by providing historical evidence and exposing the inadequacy of the Polisario’s rule in the Tindouf camps at the international level.
The current conflict over the Sahara began in 1975 when Spain withdrew from the territory. Since 1991 the United Nations peacekeeping mission known as MINURSO has monitored a cease fire between Morocco and the Polisario, as UN mediated negotiations have sought to obtain a lasting resolution.
In April 2007, Morocco presented an Autonomy Plan that was described as “serious and credible” by the Security Council. The said plan proposes significant autonomy for the Sahara with a local government and a parliament, within the Moroccan sovereignty.
The Polisario Front, supported by Algeria, rejects the Moroccan plan and claims the people of the Sahara have a right to self-determination through a referendum.
Over the past two years, Morocco and the Polisario have held 8 informal rounds of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy, Christopher Ross. The last round of negotiations was held in July in New York. All of these negotiations have ended without any progress.
Many analysts voice their concern that the current informal negotiations over the future of the Sahara are leading nowhere and that the Security Council ought to adopt a new approach in order to put an end to this long-lasting dispute.
Edited by Benjamin Villanti
© Morocco World News