[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
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Thousands of Houthi supporters have called for the fall of Yemen's government. But what do the Houthis really want?
New ration reductions and movement restrictions have refugees from Myanmar anxious about their future in Thailand.
US lawyers say poor translations of election materials disenfranchise Native voters.
US drones in Pakistan have killed thousands since 2004. How have leaders defended or decried these deadly planes?
Residents count the cost of violence after black American teenager shot dead by white Missouri police officer.
join our mailing list