Western Sahara remains sticky issue for AU

Banjul- Gambia (PANA) – Member states of the Afric-an Union (AU) remain divided on the draft resolution on the Western Sahara submitted to the Union's Executive Council during its two-day meeting that ended Thursday in Banjul, the Gambia.
Up to late Thursday, the AU foreign ministers, who comprise the Executive Council, had not found an acceptable formula to allow the adoption of the resolution on Western Sahara, according to sources who participated in the session, but prefer anonymity.
Morocco and the Polisario Front have been fighting over the sovereignty of the Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony annexed by the Moroccan Kingdom in 1975.
Morocco accuses Algeria of backing the Polisario Front, souring relations between the two Maghreb states.
During the foreign ministers deliberations, supporters of Morocco argued that the proposed text gives the best deal to the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), the state declared by the Polisario Front, and its main ally Algeria.
They want the text on Western Sahara to be “balanced and consensual”, while the states which have recognised the SADR, led by Algeria, do not intend to make concessions and want the proposed version to be adopted.
Meanwhile, Moroccan diplomats have been busy explaining the country's position on the Western Sahara issue.
Moroccan Foreign and Cooperation Minister Mohamed Benaissa, who arrived in Banjul Wednesday, has been trying to win the support of some African countries to relay Morocco's positions to the Executive Committee.
Observers note that it is the first time that Morocco has sent its foreign minister to the AU summit to carry out a diplomatic struggle on Western Sahara since it left the Pan-African body in 1976, after the Organisation for African Union (OAU), predecessor of the AU, recognised the SADR.
The Moroccan minister, considered an experienced diplomat, has already approached several African delegations, which share Morocco's views on Western Sahara.
His agenda includes also meetings with some heads of delegation he hopes to convince to change their stance on the Western Sahara.
At the same time, the Moroccan ambassador to Dakar, Senegal has been busy at the venue of the Executive Council meeting, making wide-ranging contacts with government delegations to join Morocco's position on Western Sahara.
The AU Executive Council meeting will set the agenda of the AU heads of state and government summit that runs from 1-2 July.

30 june 2006 11:03:00




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