Moroccan Interior Minister Chakib Benmoussa has said the settlement of the Western Sahara conflict requires “direct dialogue” between his country and Algeria.
“A settlement is impossible without total involvement of that country in the peace process,” Benmoussa said at the weekly cabinet meeting Thursday in Rabat.
The Minister, quoted by Moroccan media on Friday, also discussed the stalemate in the fourth round of the Manhasset negotiations, in the suburb of New York, where Morocco and the Polisario Front met from 16 to 18 March under the aegis of the United Nations.
The meeting failed to launch “genuine negotiations” on the autonomy proposal presented by Morocco “because the other parties had a selective reading and narrow interpretation of UN resolutions to serve their own interests,” he explained.
Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, has been under Moroccan control since 1975.
Last April, Morocco presented to the UN a proposal for Western Sahara to have autonomous parliament and government.
Under the proposal, education and management of the territory’s affairs will be the responsibility of the autonomous authorities, while Foreign Affairs, Defence, Currency, Gendarmerie and Customs will remain the preserve of Rabat.
The Polisario Front, the Algeria-backed movement fighting for an independent Western Sahara, has so far rejected Morocco’s offer of autonomy and reaffirmed “the Sahrawi people’s right to self-determination”. Panapress.