The Sahrawi Movement for Peace (MSP), as an emerging political force representing the Sahrawis who do not identify with the political project of the Polisario, chaired by Lhaj Ahmed Barikalla, opened, this Friday, October 27, 2023, its second International Conference for Dialogue and Peace, in room April 4 of the International Foreign Trade Center of Senegal (CICES) in Dakar.
Eminent personalities from Europe, Africa and Latin America, who took part in this conclave warmly congratulated and praised the unwavering courage of the MSP in seeking a peaceful solution to the Sahrawi conflict, thus recognizing the crucial importance of putting an end to the suffering endured by the Sahrawi population.
To this end, the former President of Congress and ex-Minister of Defense of Spain, José Bono, indicated that the problem must be resolved taking into consideration respect for human rights in addition to resolving the dispute while respecting the values and principles of international law.
Mr. Bono recalled that after Spain’s withdrawal from the Sahara in 1975, the territory was handed over to Morocco, with a dispersed population. After decades, he visited the southern provinces and was surprised to find that the Sahara is not an occupied territory, having noticed no signs of militarization or oppression of the populations.
Referring to the status quo, the former Spanish Minister of Defense said it’s time to break the deadlock and put an end to the suffering of the Saharawis. “The real objective is to put an end to the suffering of the Saharawi population”, he said, pointing out that in 2007, Morocco had presented the autonomy plan for the Sahara, which was described by the UN Security Council as serious and realistic.
To conclude, Mr. Bono indicated that the creation of a State in the Sahara constitutes a threat to the peace and security of the region, thus urging the various parties to support the initiative of the MSP which aspires to a peaceful solution to the conflict.
For his part, the former President of the Spanish Government Rodriguez Zapatero underlined that the second International Conference for Dialogue and Peace in the Sahara, is an initiative which aims to be the most democratic and the most modern for the region.
Zapatero added that the MSP was the first to understand that reconciliation is the way and not confrontation. “The solution to the Sahrawi problem lies in negotiations, not in violence or division,” he pointed out.
Concluding his intervention by videoconference, the former President of the Spanish Government indicated that “we must be ready to reconcile, to understand the other party, to forgive and to look to the future to open up new opportunities for the youth”.
The former Spanish Minister of Justice and current PSOE Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Juan Fernando Aguilar, appreciated MSP’s efforts to bring added value, not only to this event, which brings together representatives from diverse backgrounds, but which undeniably creates a rich and inclusive dialogue.
According to Juan Fernando Aguilar, the efforts of the United Nations are not moving the situation forward, despite the appointment of Staffan De Mistura as Personal Envoy of the Secretary General of the United Nations.
The MEP expressed his conviction that the autonomy plan represents a concrete, viable and realistic option to guarantee the well-being and prosperity of the Sahrawis, who otherwise remain far from their land. And to add that it is a question of breaking this lethargy which, after fifty years, has become unbearable, causing the suffering of the Sahrawis who have been dispersed, displaced, or even confined in the Tindouf camps for far too long.
Aguilar noted that the 2nd International Conference for Dialogue and Peace essentially aims to promote an initiative of dialogue and open debate, part of the efforts of the MSP, in order to establish itself as a third way in the search for a peaceful solution and mutually acceptable to a conflict as complex and painful as Western Sahara.
Furthermore, the former President of Burundi, HE. Domitien Ndayizeye, said that the Sahara question is one of the oldest in Africa. “This question has been present since my exile in 1962, and even after my presence in Belgium in 1982, and remains without solution on the table of Morocco, Algeria, the AU and the UN,” he added.
SE. Domitien Ndayizeye indicated that efforts must be combined to find useful solutions to this dispute, noting negotiation and direct consultation are necessary between the parties, and the search for resolution of the conflict must adopt a global and inclusive approach. He added that we must also note that a third party is profiting from this conflict, at the expense and lives of the Sahrawis.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Peru, Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Mackay, for his part expressed his deep admiration towards the Shioukhs and Sahrawi notables for their open-mindedness towards the vision of the MSP and its draft resolution of the conflict in the Sahara, while emphasizing the importance of unity and cooperation in their quest for justice for the Sahrawis.
For Mr. Rodriguez Mackay, the quest for peace in the region requires continued cooperation and mutual understanding between all parties concerned. He stressed that peace can only be achieved by working together, respecting the rights of all individuals and recognizing the essential value of each member of Sahrawi society, whether men or women. “The MSP’s vision for a peaceful solution to the Sahara conflict appears to be a realistic hope, provided that all parties concerned fully commit to this noble vision,” he said.
Argentine political scientist Adalberto Carlos Agozino praised the MSP’s efforts to promote peace and negotiations between all parties to the conflict, based on the autonomy proposal put forward by the Kingdom of Morocco as a solution to the conflict that would enable the local population of the Sahara to manage their own affairs.
For the Argentine political scientist, the intransigence of the Polisario only worsens the humanitarian situation in the Tindouf camps and deprives the Sahrawis in the camps of returning to their homeland and living normally and benefiting from the well-being that their country of origin offers them.
Mr. Agozino affirmed that the MSP must receive the international community support to be able to build a constructive overall logic where the interests and needs of all Sahrawis are respected and where all parties are winners. He added that the international community must work to promote peace in the Sahara and for a compromise solution to the conflict.
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