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Letter of Baker to the Economist

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  • arso
    This was published in The Economist (London) today. Page 16. 14-20 July 2001. SIR * Your article on Western Sahara ( The UN s U-turn , June 30th) contains
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 13, 2001
      Letter of Baker to the Economist
      This was published in The Economist (London) today. Page 16.  14-20 July 2001.
      SIR * Your article on Western Sahara ("The UN's U-turn", June 30th)  contains information about the framework agreement on the status of Western Sahara that I helped draw up and that is, I believe, inaccurate. First, you say that there "may-but only may-be a referendum". In fact the agreement says there will be one within five years.

      Second, you say that "the UN now appears to have decided to abandon" the settlement plan. In fact, the secretary-general's report to the Security Council says "the settlement plan will not be abandoned." And Security Council resolution 1359 of June 29th 2001 affirms that by engaging in negotiations over the framework agreement the parties will not prejudice their final positions. The resolution also provides that while discussions regarding the framework agreement go on, proposals submitted by the Polisario Front to overcome the obstacles preventing implementation of the settlement plan will be considered. Third, you say Morocco would be "responsible for law and order during the transition." The framework agreement plainly assigns exclusive competence for "law enforcement" and "internal security" to the population of Western Sahara. Fourth, you say that the proposed executive "will be responsible to [the] assembly". The relationship of the executive and the assembly is not laid out in the framework agreement and would be determined by negotiation.
      Finally, let me answer the question posed at the start of your piece: "Has the UN's new plan for Western Sahara dropped self-determination?" The answer is an unqualified no. As the secretary-general says in his report: "The proposed framework agreement is not unlike agreements used to address similar situations elsewhere, where a devolution of authority to the inhabitants of a non-self-governing territory is granted with the final status of the territory to be determined by a referendum." In the light of the complexity and importance of these matters, it is hoped that you will exercise the utmost care in reporting them.
      James Baker

      Remark by the sender
      The cited article of the Economist "The UN's U-turn", June 30th,  is under URL: < >http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sahara-update/message/205color="#000000">>)

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