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     Home > Justice & Peace >  2013-11-21 16:15:46
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Seeking solutions to conflict in Western Sahara



(Vatican Radio) Twenty-two years on from the cessation of hostilities between the Moroccan army and the Polisario Front, fighting for the independence of Western Sahara, hopes have recently been raised for a definitive solution to this forgotten conflict. The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic was proclaimed by the Polisario Front in 1976, one year after Spain relinquished control of the region, while both Morocco and Mauritania moved to annex the area. Fighting continued until a UN brokered ceasefire was established in 1991, calling for a referendum on the key question of self-determination for the Sahrawi people.
This year the UN’s special envoy to the region, Christopher Ross, has visited three times to discuss the peace process, while Sahrawi officials were in Rome this past week for a meeting with members of the Italian parliament and other European organizations. During their visit to Rome, correspondent Luca Attanasio caught up with the Sahrawi minister for relations with Europe, Mohamed Sidati

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Minister Sidati says the visits of UN envoy Christopher Ross to Western Sahara are significant…he visited refugee camps, the “occupied territories’ and neighbouring countries to give more force for the peace process which is in a deadlocked situation..” He says there is a “need to renew negotiations between Morocco and Western Sahara” over this colonial conflict and that the “only solution should be through self-determination”….
More than two decades after the ceasefire, Minister Sidati says people have high expectations from UN and from the international community but unfortunately, he says, the situation is in a stalemate and has created lots of frustration among the youth in particular. He says some bold steps towards peace are needed to stop people wanting to return to armed struggle. Many victims of human rights abuses are in jail, he points out and the territory is closed to the international press so that “a siege is taking place”
Asked what he expects from the European countries that have not recognized the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Minister Sidati says they have “a lot of responsibility and should encourage a peaceful solution to the conflict..”




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