Sahara: the UN has definitively buried the option of a referendum, says a former Spanish Minister of Defense

The UN Security Council has definitively buried the option of a referendum in the Sahara and hailed in its resolutions the autonomy plan presented by Morocco as serious and credible, said Thursday, September 22, 2022, the ex-Spanish Minister of Defense and ex-head of the intelligence services, José Bono.

“We are in 2022. The last time that the Security Council used the expression “holding of a referendum” in its resolutions on the Sahara, it was in resolution n°1359 of June 29, 2001”, underlined José Bono, who was speaking at the opening of the first International Conference for Peace and Security in the Sahara, which is being held in Las Palmas.

The former president of the Spanish Congress of Deputies observed that “in 2007, Morocco responded to the Security Council’s call for a political solution by proposing an autonomy plan for the Sahara. Since then, the Security Council has considered the Moroccan proposal as serious and credible”, specifying that the context of this proposal is well known in Spain.

“Autonomy was the constitutional solution to the problem of the territorial distribution of power in Spain and the legal and solidary response to those who demanded independence,” he recalled.

In this context, José Bono noted that “the Spanish government, by declaring that the autonomy plan proposed by Morocco is the ‘most serious, realistic and credible basis’, goes in the same direction as the resolutions of the UN and it is in agreement with the position of the United States and Germany”.

“Rather than UN resolutions on the Sahara that have not been implemented for decades, what the Sahrawis need are solutions to their problems. More solutions and less resolutions”, he pleaded, assuring “that part of the Sahrawi populations benefits from a remarkable development”, in Morocco, while another part continues to live in “inhuman conditions , without either party being able to heal the wounds of the sad separation”.

And to recall that “the International Court of Justice had evoked in its advisory opinion of October 16, 1975, the existence at that time of links of legal subordination between Morocco and the populations of the Sahara, the allegiance”, underlining that this ” secular tradition symbolizes the bonds which unite the population and its Sovereign”.

“In the aforementioned advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, reference is made to the appointment of delegates, governors and judges in the Sahara and to documents showing their loyalty to the Sultan of Morocco. This recognition by the International Court is eloquent when we consider the historical rights in the Sahara”, he detailed.

According to José Bono, the Sahara conflict has “lasted longer than can be tolerated by a population that has suffered greatly for more than half a century”, considering that “to build the future by overcoming enmities and inherited prejudices, we must seize every opportunity”.

“The Polisario cannot ignore the fact that the world has changed a lot in recent years and that it must discern what is possible and what is impossible”, concluded José Bono.

The international conference for peace and security in the Sahara, which will continue on Friday, has the participation of several Spanish political personalities, international researchers, journalists and chioukhs and notables of the Sahrawi tribes.

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