RTP.pt.- The representative of the Polisario Front for Europe and European Institutions, Mansour Omar, today called Morocco’s proposal for greater autonomy for Western Sahara “bastardised” and insisted on a referendum on self-determination for the Sahrawi people.
In an interview with the Lusa news agency in Lisbon, where he is in contact with political parties represented in the Portuguese Parliament, Omar attacked Rabat’s proposal, which has been gaining international support, considering it a way of “derailing the peace process” that began in 1991.
“Autonomy is a bastardised proposal. It’s a way of derailing the peace process that was well underway on solid, neutral grounds, which is the organisation of a democratic referendum process in Western Sahara,” said the diplomat and former minister of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
For Omar, autonomy, proposed “individually and unilaterally”, does not fit” into the peace process, even after international pressure” — “from some members of the UN Security Council and African countries” — for Rabat to accept the referendum.
However, he guarantees that, for Polisario, “there is still room for negotiations”, avoiding elaborating on the composition of the electoral body entitled to vote in a referendum, drawn up and defined in 1991 (at the time of the signing of the peace agreements at the UN and which defined the holding of the vote) and later revised in 2007.
Questioned by Lusa about the divisions in the UN Security Council – the United States supports Morocco, while Russia supports Algeria (which harbours the Saharawi regime) – Omar said that this issue is not “part of the framework of strategic confrontations”.
He said it was “simply a question of decolonising a territory that was prevented from decolonising because a country, Morocco, was occupied” in 1975.
The former Spanish colony is considered a “non-self-governing territory” by the UN, although Rabat controls almost 80% of an almost desert-like region of 266,000 square kilometres.
Regarding the current impasse, Mansour Omar emphasised the “importance” of the fact that, for the first time, the UN Secretary General’s envoy for Western Sahara, Staffan De Mistura, travelled to the Sahrawi territories in the middle of this month, as part of a regional tour that also took him to Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania.
De Mistura, he said, “spoke to all the actors involved, including Polisario, visited the refugee camps in the occupied territories for the first time and had the opportunity to observe the reality on the ground”.
Omar says he hopes the trip will contribute to “unblocking the impasse”.
“We want to relaunch the peace process in Western Sahara in order to achieve the application of the right to self-determination of the Sahrawi people,” added the Sahrawi representative, who demanded that the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in West Africa (Minurso) “complete its mission”.
“Hassan II [former king of Morocco] understood what war was and negotiated peace. The new king, Mohamed VI [inaugurated on 23 July 1999] has blocked everything. He took the throne at a time of peace and thought it would be easier to give it all up. A naive position. He despises the Sahrawis’ ability to fight and resist,” he argued.
For Omar, the only thing the King of Morocco has achieved is to return to armed conflict, since 13 November 2020, “a war that is not continuous, but one of attrition that will further weaken the Moroccan economy”.
“The 80,000 Moroccan soldiers haven’t won a victory in 30 years. That means [the country] will lose the war. The Polisario Front is a liberation movement that has all its people prepared militarily, men and women, and can participate with thousands of men, with light units when the circumstances require it. We don’t measure in numbers of men, but we do measure in combat capacity and willingness to die for what is ours,” he concluded.