- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 31, 2006


The following is a glance at various peace proposals for Western Sahara: • In 1990, the U.N. Security Council resolution proposed a peace plan that provided for a transition period, which called for a referendum in January 1992 on independence or integration with Morocco. The referendum failed to take place because of disputes over voter rolls: The United Nations wanted to use a 1973 census conducted by Spain, the then-colonial ruler, while Morocco insisted on including Moroccan settlers who moved in after Spain quit Western Sahara in 1975. The Polisario Frontrefused.

• A plan presented in 2001 by mediator James A. Baker III, a former U.S. secretary of state, proposed autonomy for Sahrawis under Moroccan sovereignty and a referendum in four years offering a choice among independence, autonomy and integration with Morocco. Moroccans residing in Western Sahara for more than a year would be eligible to vote. Morocco accepted. Polisario and Algeria refused.

• In 2003, the United Nations proposed that Western Sahara be a semi-autonomous region of Morocco for up to five years, followed by a referendum offering the choice of independence, autonomy or integration.

• Polisario has accepted the idea of such a referendum, since it expects the majority to vote for independence. Morocco refused.

• In March, while insisting that the desert region must remain part of its kingdom, Morocco proposed autonomy under Moroccan rule and said it is working out the details for presentation to the United Nations. This proposal does not envision a referendum.

• In April, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for reviving the Baker peace plan, and said the only way forward is for Morocco to negotiate directly with Polisario and agree to a referendum on independence.

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