“The Autonomy Plan offered by Morocco for a lasting resolution of the Sahara issue is the starting point for reaching a compromise solution ushering in a new era of peace and prosperity,” the first International Conference for Peace & Security, held in the Canary Islands’ Las Palmas across September 22-23 concluded in its closing manifesto.
The Saharawi Movement for Peace (MSP), with the support of Saharawi tribal chiefs and several other international personalities and NGOs, organized the conference that laid out a roadmap for peacefully resolving the Sahara regional conflict, something that the separatists of the Polisario resolutely oppose, as it erases their ‘reason for being.’
The conference participants warned against the negative impacts of the stalemate on the stability of the whole region, and deplored the sufferings endured by families separated for decades due to the intransigence of a minority of impractical radicals. The Las Palmas conference brought together several Spanish political figures, former diplomats, international researchers, Sheikhs and notables of Sahrawi tribes.
Several Sheikhs and eminences of the Sahrawi tribes insisted that the autonomy plan is the only viable solution to the Sahara regional conflict, and affirmed that the Polisario, which still clings to outdated positions, does not at all represent the Sahrawi population.
Among the attendees, former Prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who hailed the “serious & credible” Moroccan autonomy plan for the Sahara, while former Spanish Defense minister & ex-chief of intelligence, José Bono told the Algeria-backed Polisario separatist group to be realistic as the referendum option has been dropped definitively by the UN Security Council because it is “neither doable and is wholly unworkable …”
Former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco, Edward Gabriel called on the UN Security Council to move towards a lasting political solution to the Sahara issue based on the “realistic autonomy plan that has been proposed by Rabat.”
In their manifesto, participants stressed the need to build up trust in the role of the United Nations to advance towards a compromise solution, support UN Sahara envoy Staffan de Mistura, and expand dialogue to include new leaders, such as Sahrawi dignitaries, in the search for a peace agreement.
They hailed the supportive stand of the Spanish Government of the autonomy plan described as the “most serious, credible and feasible” solution and called for enhancing the role of the top cadres and representatives of the Saharawi.
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