Chirac says WSahara plan 'constructive'

6th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 5, 2007 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac praised a Moroccan plan to grant self-rule to the separatist region of Western Sahara as "constructive" after talks with Moroccan ministers here Monday.

PARIS, Feb 5, 2007 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac praised a Moroccan plan to grant self-rule to the separatist region of Western Sahara as "constructive" after talks with Moroccan ministers here Monday.

But the plan was roundly rejected by Saharawi foreign minister Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, who declared it "null and void".

Chirac held talks in Paris with Morocco's Interior Minister Chabib Benmoussa and a delegation of officials from Rabat, who gave the French president an early look at the plan, which is due to be presented to the UN in April.

A statement from Chirac's office thanked the Moroccan delegation for "reserving for France a first look at its considerations for the future of Western Sahara and of the plan accompanying it, which it characterises as 'constructive'".

Morocco annexed the desolate but phosphate-rich northwest African territory after the withdrawal of the region's former colonial power Spain and neighbour Mauritania in the 1970s.

A war ensued with the armed Polisario Front independence movement which was set up in 1973 and established itself as the sole representative of the nomadic Saharan or Saharawi people.

The conflict ended in 1991 with a UN-brokered ceasefire.

Moroccan Communications Minister Nabil Benabdellah said the plan for the southern desert region rests on "three axes," namely "the sovereignty of Morocco... the social and cultural characteristics of the (Western Sahara) region and international criteria for autonomy."

Ould Salek, a member of the Saharawi government in exile, told journalists in Algiers the plan was dead in the water.

"The occupier's plan is null and void. It is stillborn," he said.

The minister warned that "the people are going to resist, fight and campaign against it until they get full satisfaction for their right of self-determination, whatever the cost."

He said the "Moroccan regime, unfortunately comforted by France" would have to bear the "dangerous consequences" for the plan.

A government source in Rabat, meanwhile, said that other UN Security Council members would also be given a look at the proposal.

"After France ... government emissaries will be sent to the United States, Britain, Russia and China," the source told AFP.

There will also be talks with Spain as well as non-permanent members of the Security Council such as Qatar, Peru and Italy, the source said.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Jacques Chirac

0 Comments To This Article