MAHFUD ALI BEIBA: We hope Morocco abandons unilateral and demonstrates political and historical realism
The Head of the Saharawi negotiating team in the talks in Manhasset near New York, hoped “the Moroccan delegation would abandon the unilateral rhetoric and stop wasting its own breath, and demonstrate political and historical realism”, and accept a solution that provides for Saharawi people’s right to self-determination.
In his opening speech, during the first day of the negotiations gathering POLISARIO Front with Morocco, Mr. Mahfud Ali Beiba, gave the following speech:
STATEMENT OF Mr. MAHFUD ALI BEIBA
Head of the Negotiating Delegation of the Frente POLISARIO
8 January 2008
Mr. Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for Western Sahara,
Ladies and Gentlemen Members of the UN delegation,
Gentlemen, Members of the delegation of the Kingdom of Morocco,
Gentlemen, Members of the delegations of the neighbouring countries, Algeria and Mauritania
Allow me to begin by wishing you all a happy New Year and to express our sincere wish that it will be the year of the just and lasting peace.
Mr. Personal Envoy, Gentlemen Members of the delegation of the Kingdom of Morocco,
The Frente POLISARIO comes to this round of negotiations with the Kingdom of Morocco with the same spirit and the same readiness, already demonstrated in the two previous rounds, to go forward in the right direction outlined in the “roadmap” that the international community has established very clearly in the Security Council resolution 1754 (2007).
In spite of the delays and obstacles unduly put in the way of holding this round, and despite the manoeuvres, the distorting interpretations of the parameters of this process and the recent unjustifiable attitudes that unnecessarily put the process at risk, in spite of all this, the Saharawi delegation considers that we the two parties, gathered here once again under the auspices of the Untied Nations, are inexorably under obligation to demonstrate to our peoples, to the region and the international community at large that we are resolved to advance and to spare no efforts for the triumph of reason, justice and international legality and consequently the reestablishment of the just and lasting peace in the region.
It goes without saying that the legal and just is obvious and the illegal and unjust is evident.
The conflict of Western Sahara, whose origin and tragic consequences are more than evident, represents essentially a confrontation between colonialism and freedom whose outcome had been settled by History and by almost all nations that today form the international community.
Nothing is new or strange in this decolonisation process as defined by the United Nations. On the one hand, there is the defence of some values and principles enshrined in the UN Charter that are essential for international justice, security and stability. On the other, there is the attempt to create a new map based on the use of brutal force, sowing disorder and anarchy and giving rise to insecurity and uncertainty about the future of all the peoples of this region of Africa, the continent that has been the veritable laboratory of the most tragic and shameful colonial experiences in human history.
We would like to believe that our neighbours in Morocco, in keeping with their own struggle for freedom and national independence and in response to the call of international community, would walk with us hand in hand, starting from this third round, on the path leading to the just and lasting peace. We are aware that it is not an easy path given the circumstances and political factors that have undermined the necessary trust that should reign between the two parties. However, we are certain that it is the less difficult path of all paths that have been tried so far and that, in the process of trying to impose them by brutal force, have proven limited and futile.
We hope sincerely that this round be different from the previous ones and that it could afford us, if there is sincere political will, the possibility of demonstrating to our peoples and the United Nations that every effort made was worthwhile, and that the prospects for a peaceful, just and lasting solution based on the respect for the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination are real.
In this context, keeping in mind the terms of reference established by the Security Council since 1975 up to its resolution 1754 of 30 April 2007, we believe that negotiations and the attachment to the principle of self-determination and human rights are the basis on which those prospects were established in the Settlement Plan, the Houston Agreements and Baker Plan, and they must remain the basis for maintaining these prospects opened up on the horizon of this new process.
We agree with the assessment made by the UN Secretary-General in his latest report (S/2007 /619) of 19 October 2007 in which he underlined the need for the two parties to enter into more substantial negotiations in the framework of the parameters established by the Security Council. These parameters are basically three. First, direct negotiations between the Frente POLISARIO, as the sole and legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people, and the Kingdom of Morocco, as a means to go forward, not an objective in itself. Second, a mutually acceptable political solution that provides for the self-determination of the Saharawi people as the aim of the decolonisation process of the last colony in Africa that is recognised and registered as such in the agenda of the United Nations. Third, the fact that there are two ideas or proposals on the table that represent the visions of the two parties involved in the conflict.
The dynamic of the negotiation should be centred on these pillars as one package without restrictions or discrimination, if we want the process to be objective, rational and in line with what the international community has established as reference and mandate.
The Frente POLISARIO would like to reaffirm its full attachment to these parameters. It agrees with the assessment made by the UN Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy regarding the need for the two parties to enter into substantial negotiations aimed at the full implementation of the Security Council resolution 1754 (2007) that was elaborated--we should underline here--with a view to enabling the Saharawi people to exercise their right to self-determination in conformity with the dictates of international legality set out in the UN Charter and resolution 1514 (XV) of the General Assembly.
The Frente POLISARIO considers that the negotiations process underway should not become an objective in itself and consequently should not be emptied of its main content. The substantial negotiations should be centred on the concrete bases that have been established from the beginning by the Security Council resolution 1754 (2007) and reaffirmed by the Secretary-General in his report of October 2007 where it has been underlined that there are two proposals on the table that have been submitted by the two parties, which should be discussed on equal footing.
In this context, we reiterate the call on the Kingdom of Morocco to engage positively and to accept the full implementation of the Security Council resolution 1754 (2007) and consequently the negotiation of the ways and methods whereby the Saharawi people could exercise their right to self-determination.
The delegation of the Frente POLISARIO is prepared now, or whenever the Personal Envoy sees fit, to engage in this level and kind of negotiation. It is unacceptable that Morocco blocked the implementation of the peace plans that it had solemnly accepted, obstructed the holding of the self-determination referendum to which it had committed, while trying today to undermine the new prospects for a just and lasting peace that are made possible by the Security Council resolution 1754 (2007).
We would like to hope that the Moroccan delegation would abandon the unilateral rhetoric and stop wasting its own breath, and demonstrate political and historical realism and opt this time for cooperating with this new effort of the international community that still considers, and rightly so, that the Saharawi people should have the possibility to exercise their right to self-determination and to choose the best for their future, either independence, integration into Morocco or autonomy within Morocco.
If the Saharawi people choose independence, we would like to assure our neighbours in Morocco that independence will not mean that we would turn our backs on them. The elements contained in the proposal that we have presented, and of which the Security Council has taken note, constitute a sincere declaration of intention to build together and with the rest of the Maghrebian nations a united, peaceful, secure and prosperous Maghreb. The elements of this proposal are clearly open to elaboration if our neighbours consider that there are interests or concerns that have not been addressed in the proposal.
The delegation of the Frente POLISARIO holds the same view as that of the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General that this process of negotiation should be supported by concrete measures aimed at building trust between the two parties that could serve to send a positive message to the Security Council and an encouraging signal to our two peoples demonstrating to them the usefulness and relevance on the ground of the this process that was initiated six months ago. In this context, the Frente POLISARIO believes that the measures proposed in the second round in Manhasset could serve this triple purpose, and it is open to their practical consideration. We cannot also but express our surprise at the decision taken unilaterally by Morocco to cancel the seminar that was going to be held in Madeira, Portugal, in November 2007.
Nevertheless, those measures should also involve other fields that are highly sensitive and far-reaching. The issue of human rights and their daily violation in the occupied areas of Western Sahara, as demonstrated by several reports of independent organisations as well as by the report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of September 2006, are a cause of deep concern to the delegation of the Frente POLISARIO.
It was this concern that made the former UN Secretary-General and the current one, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, refer to this question in his last reports in which they reiterated that the United Nations cannot turn its back on the violation of human rights in Western Sahara even if MINURSO has not been specifically mandated to monitor the respect for human rights in the territory. Furthermore, European prestigious legal bodies have made the first steps to investigate whether Morocco has committed genocide in Western Sahara in the aftermath of the illegal invasion and occupation of the Sahrawi territory by Moroccan troops in 1975. Our fellow Sahrawis in those territories are still subjected to repression on a daily basis. This has just been confirmed by the summary report made public by Human Rights Watch on 7 January 2008. Mass graves of more 40 Sahrawis have been unearthed in Southern Morocco by Moroccan official bodies. Last week, another mass grave was discovered in the occupied town of Smara. All this indicates that there is a Moroccan policy of massive violation of human rights that is incompatible with the obligations of a Member State of the United Nations.
The delegation of the Frente POLISARIO has submitted to the Personal Envoy documented evidences regarding the deterioration of the human rights situation in the occupied areas of Western Sahara, which we consider extremely serious and counterproductive to the needed atmosphere of serenity and tranquillity that should surround this process.
We would like to call on the Kingdom of Morocco to ensure the respect for human rights in the occupied areas of Western Sahara so that this question does not remain a political and psychological obstacle that undoubtedly hinders this negotiation process.
We are prepared, Mr. Personal Envoy, Gentlemen Members of the delegation of the Kingdom of Morocco, to face the reality and the implications for this opportunity for achieving the just and lasting peace.
Both Morocco and the Frente POLISARIO cannot ignore that the common denominator that brings us together today and that which binds us with the international community is the promise and the commitment to enable the Saharawi people to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination. We should allow the Saharawi people to choose their future in a transparent, legal, fair and free manner. It is our mandate, our obligation and our responsibility.
It would be difficult for us to believe and accept as it would also be difficult for the international community to believe and accept that Morocco continues to oppose the peaceful and legal solution of the conflict. This is a conflict that can no longer be swept under the carpet, a conflict that represents 32 years of destruction and death to the Saharawi and Moroccan peoples, and has caused the using of enormous resources by the two parties and the United Nations, a conflict that it is still in the agenda of all the bodies of the Untied Nations.
We cannot hide the legitimate and uncontainable frustration of the Saharawi people that for more than three decades have been waiting for the fulfilment of the promise made to them by the international community about enabling them to choose their destiny through a simple and straightforward referendum on self-determination. It would be a folly and a serious error to push our people to extreme situations.
As a party to the conflict and the peace process, the Frente POLISARIO has fully cooperated with all the efforts deployed by the international community with a view to elaborating and implementing the different peace plans approved by the Security Council.
Taking into account what has been said earlier, we express our sincere hope that this third round be the beginning of a true process of irreversible peace, established on the firm and solid bases framed by the Untied Nations since 1975 up to the Security Council recent resolution 1754 (2007). The failure of this process would damage the credibility of the international system and would affect negatively the capacity and authority of the United Nations and, what is worse, it could leave no other option except the unknown in a region that deserves to restore its confidence and belief in a future of peace and prosperity that would enable all its peoples, without exclusion, to join efforts to make that future possible.