[QODLink]
Archive
Baker resigns as UN peace envoy

Former US Secretary of State James Baker has resigned as the UN's special envoy to Western Sahara after efforts to resolve the disputed territory's future failed.

Last Modified: 11 Jun 2004 23:36 GMT
Baker's compromise plan failed to win Morocco's approval

Former US Secretary of State James Baker has resigned as the UN's special envoy to Western Sahara after efforts to resolve the disputed territory's future failed.

Baker, deeply frustrated by his inability to end the impasse during his seven year tenure, told UN Secretary General Kofi Annan of his intention to resign several days ago, but the Security Council was not formally notified until Friday, UN diplomats said.

Annan named Baker as his personal troubleshooter on the contentious dispute in March 1997.

The fate of the vast northwest African territory of about 260,000 people, rich in phosphates and also believed to have offshore oil deposits, has been contested since Morocco
seized it in 1975, immediately after it won independence from colonial power Spain.

'Serious setback'

The UN has been involved in efforts to resolve the dispute for 13 years.

"This is a serious setback to the UN effort for resolving the West Sahara issue," said Ahmad Boukhari, a representative of the Polisario Front independence movement.

"It's a great loss for
the peace effort, but
he has left behind as
his legacy a clear
peace plan based on
self-determination
for the people of
Western Sahara"

Ahmad Boukhari,
Polisario Front representative

"It's a great loss for the peace effort, but he has left behind as his legacy a clear peace plan based on self-determination for the people of Western Sahara," Boukhari said.

Morocco "worked closely with Mr Baker, making us better aware of what we could accept and what were our red lines", Rabat's ambassador to the UN, Muhammad Binnouna, told Reuters.

"We thank him for all his efforts and especially for his patience."

Baker's latest compromise proposal was to make Western Sahara a semi-autonomous part of Morocco for four to five years, followed by a referendum letting residents choose either independence, continued semi-autonomy or integration with Morocco.

The Polisario Front and its principal backer, Algeria, welcomed the plan, but Morocco announced on 9 April that it could accept only "autonomy within the framework of Moroccan sovereignty" for Western Sahara.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
The conservative UMP party suffers from crippling internal divisions and extreme debt from mismanagement.
More than fifty years of an armed struggle for independence from Spain might be coming to an end in the Basque Country.
After the shooting-down of flight MH17, relatives ask what the carrier has learned from still-missing MH370.
Human rights and corporate responsibility prompt a US church to divest from companies doing business with Israel.
Afghan militias have accumulated a lengthy record of human-rights abuses, including murders and rapes.
join our mailing list