The United States (US) and France have affirmed that they consider Morocco’s Autonomy Plan in Western Sahara as a “serious, credible, and realistic” solution to the territorial dispute.
The two permanent UN Security Council members issued statements on Friday, October 30, after voting for Resolution 2548. The resolution renews the mandate of the peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, MINURSO, for one year.
“We view Morocco’s Autonomy Plan as serious, credible, and realistic, and it represents one potential approach to satisfy the aspirations of the people in Western Sahara to run their own affairs with peace and dignity,” said the US mission to the UN.
The American diplomatic mission expressed support to the UN-led political process in the region and urged the conflicting parties to resume negotiations “in good faith.”
“France considers that the Moroccan Autonomy Plan of 2007 constitutes a serious and credible basis for discussions with a view to resuming dialogue,” the statement said.
The statements from the permanent UN Security Council members come to affirm the trust that Morocco’s autonomy initiative has gained within the international community since its submission in 2007.
The Autonomy Plan suggests making Western Sahara a semi-autonomous region under Moroccan sovereignty. The proposal would give local populations the ability to independently manage their socio-economic and political developments.
For the 14th year in a row, the UN Security Council “welcomed” Morocco’s “serious and credible” efforts.
Resolution 2548 also affirmed Algeria’s role as a party to the conflict, as opposed to the Algerian government’s claims of only being an observer. The text mentioned Algeria five times — as many times as it named Morocco.
In addition to their positive review of the Moroccan Autonomy Plan, the US and France expressed their worries about violations in Western Sahara. They noted the separatist Polisario Front’s recent provocations in Guerguerat, near the Moroccan-Mauritanian border.
Earlier in October, a group of 50 Polisario members, including men, women, and children, barricaded a number of areas in the buffer zone in Guerguerat, blocking civil and commercial traffic.
On October 21, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the Polisario Front to leave Guerguerat, saying that “regular civil and commercial traffic must not be hampered.”
On Friday, both the US and France denounced the provocative acts.
“We call for all parties to exercise restraint, particularly in light of recent events in Guerguerat, which pose a threat to peace and stability in the region,” US diplomacy said.
Meanwhile, France expressed its “worries about the current blockade in the buffer zone of Guerguerat, which is likely to create tensions that could undermine the political process.”
The US and France also mentioned the significant increase in violations in the region, as presented in the 2020 annual UN Secretary-General report on the situation in Western Sahara.
The document, published on October 7, reported 53 violations by the Polisario Front, including 13 general violations and 40 violations against the freedom of movement, between September 1, 2019, and August 31, 2020.
The report also highlighted that four long-standing violations by the separatist group remain unaddressed.