Sunday, June 13, 2004

Western Sahara: mediator quits

Former US Secretary of State James Baker resigned a couple of days ago from his role as Kofi Annan’s personal envoy for Western Sahara. From the UN press release ...
Since his appointment in March 1997, Mr. Baker, along with the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), has been helping the parties settle the territory’s status. The Mission has been operating since April 1991, when it was installed after years of fighting between Western Saharans and Morocco following Spain’s withdrawal from the territory in 1976.

Last year the UN issued a suggested peace plan, backed by the Security Council as an “optimum political solution,” between Morocco and the Frente POLISARIO (Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro) that would have given Mr. Baker, as Personal Envoy, responsibility for a referendum determining whether the people of Western Sahara choose independence or integration with Morocco.

But in April Morocco rejected the peace plan and proposed to give Western Sahara limited autonomy.
According to this BBC story, Baker is reported to have grown frustrated over his failure to broker an agreement.