The Moroccan proposal is considered by many countries to be the most serious, realistic and credible solution to the Sahrawi conflict that has lasted more than four decades

Key points of Morocco's autonomy plan for Western Sahara

Puesto fronterizo entre Marruecos y Mauritania en Guerguerat, situado en el Sáhara Occidental - AFP/FADEL SENNA
AFP/FADEL SENNA - Morocco-Mauritania border crossing point at Guerguerat, Western Sahara

Morocco proposes a formula of broad autonomy for Western Sahara under Moroccan sovereignty in order to resolve the Sahrawi conflict that has been going on for more than four decades. Many important countries on the international scene, such as the United States, Germany, the United Arab Emirates and Spain, consider this proposal to be the most serious, credible and realistic way to end the Sahrawi dispute, and the Alaouite kingdom has put forward a complete and detailed programme of its plans for the region. 

Morocco's proposal follows the directives of King Mohammed VI and has been given a strong international boost by Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita. The plan respects United Nations (UN) resolutions on the Saharawi question and the Moroccan spirit in this regard seeks to create the conditions for a process of dialogue and negotiation leading to a mutually acceptable political solution. All this in the face of the opposing position of the Polisario Front, which, with the support of Algeria, advocates a referendum on independence for the Sahrawi population. 

Morocco offers a detailed programme with 35 key points that explains the line of action that the North African country would take in Western Sahara and shows how the Statute of Autonomy would be applied in the Sahara region, alluding to respect for all kinds of citizens' rights, the Saharan populations' capacity for self-management, the administrative and judicial organisation proposed for the area and the powers that the autonomy would have in different areas such as the economy, security, infrastructures, etc... With one very important issue, and that is that, respecting all positions and currents, the Statute of Autonomy, the result of the negotiations, will be the subject of consultation in a referendum of the populations concerned, in accordance with the principle of self-determination and the provisions of the United Nations Charter, as stated in the Moroccan approach. 

PHOTO/FILE - Mohamed VI, rey de Marruecos
PHOTO/FILE - Mohammed VI, King of Morocco

The full 35 points of Morocco's autonomy plan for Western Sahara are set out below: 

1- Since 2004, the Security Council has regularly called on "the parties and states in the region to continue to cooperate fully with the United Nations to end the current impasse and to move towards a political solution". 

2- In response to this appeal by the international community, the Kingdom of Morocco has entered into a positive and constructive dynamic, committing itself to present an initiative for the negotiation of an autonomy statute for the Sahara region, within the framework of the sovereignty of the Kingdom and its national unity. 

3- This initiative is part of the construction of a democratic and modern society, based on the rule of law, individual and collective freedoms and economic and social development. As such, it brings the promise of a better future for the people of the region, ends separation and exile and promotes reconciliation. 

4- Through this initiative, the Kingdom of Morocco guarantees all Saharawis, inside and outside, their full place and role, without discrimination or exclusion, in the organs and institutions of the region. 

5- Thus, the people of the Sahara will manage their affairs themselves and democratically through legislative, executive and judicial bodies with exclusive powers. They shall have the economic resources necessary for the development of the region in all areas and shall participate actively in the economic, social and cultural life of the Kingdom. 

6- The State shall retain its sovereign powers in sovereign areas, in particular defence, foreign relations and the constitutional and religious powers of His Majesty the King. 

7- The Moroccan initiative, inspired by a spirit of openness, aims to create the conditions for a process of dialogue and negotiation leading to a mutually acceptable political solution. 

8- The Statute of Autonomy, the outcome of the negotiations, will be the subject of consultation in a referendum of the populations concerned, in accordance with the principle of self-determination and the provisions of the United Nations Charter. 

9- In this perspective, Morocco calls on the other parties to seize this opportunity to write a new page in the history of the region. It is ready to engage in serious and constructive negotiations based on the spirit of this initiative and to contribute to the creation of a climate of confidence. 

10- To this end, the Kingdom remains ready to cooperate fully with the UN Secretary General and his Personal Envoy. 

11- The Moroccan autonomy project is inspired by the relevant UN proposals and the constitutional provisions in force in the States geographically and culturally close to Morocco, and is based on internationally recognised norms and standards. 

A. Powers of the Sahara Autonomous Region 

12- In accordance with democratic principles and procedures, the populations of the Sahara Autonomous Region, acting through the legislative, executive and judicial bodies, shall have, within the territorial limits of the Region, competence in various fields in particular: 

  • local administration, local police and the courts of the Region. 
  • economy: economic development, regional planning, investment promotion, trade, industry, tourism and agriculture. 
  • the Region's budget and taxation. 
  • infrastructure: water, hydraulic installations, electricity, public works and transport.  
  • social: housing, education, health, employment, sport, security and social protection.  
  • cultural, including the promotion of the Saharawi Hassani cultural heritage. 
  • environment. 

13- The Saharawi Autonomous Region shall have the economic resources necessary for its development in all areas. These resources shall consist in particular of 

  • taxes, duties and land taxes imposed by the competent bodies of the Region. 
  • revenues from the exploitation of natural resources allocated to the Region. 
  • the share of revenues from natural resources located in the Region and collected by the State.  
  • the necessary resources allocated within the framework of national solidarity. 
  • revenues from the Region's patrimony 

14- The State shall retain exclusive jurisdiction, in particular over: 

  • the attributes of sovereignty, in particular the flag, the national anthem and the currency 
  • the attributions linked to the constitutional and religious powers of the King, Commander of the Faithful and guarantor of freedom of worship and of individual and collective freedoms 
  • national security, external defence and territorial integrity. 
  • external relations. 
  • the judicial order of the Kingdom. 

15 - The responsibility of the State in the field of foreign relations shall be exercised in consultation with the Sahara Autonomous Region in matters which directly concern the powers of this Region. The Sahara Autonomous Region may, in consultation with the Government, establish cooperation links with foreign Regions in order to develop inter-regional dialogue and cooperation. 

16- The powers of the State in the Sahara Autonomous Region, provided for in paragraph 13 above, shall be exercised by a Government delegate. 

17- In addition, the powers which are not specifically attributed shall be exercised, by mutual agreement, on the basis of the principle of subsidiarity. 

18- The populations of the Sahara Autonomous Region are represented in Parliament and other national institutions. They participate in all national electoral consultations. 

B- The bodies of the Region: 

19- The Parliament of the Sahara Autonomous Region shall be composed of members elected by the various Saharawi tribes, and of members elected by direct universal suffrage by the entire population of the Region. The composition of the Parliament of the Saharawi Autonomous Region shall include adequate representation of women. 

20- The executive branch of the Sahara Autonomous Region shall be exercised by a head of government elected by the regional parliament. He is invested by the King. The Head of Government is the representative of the State in the region. 

21 - The Head of Government of the Sahara Autonomous Region forms the Government of the Region and appoints the administrators necessary to exercise the powers vested in it by the Statute of Autonomy. He shall be responsible to the Parliament of the Region. 

22 - The Regional Parliament may create courts to hear disputes arising from the application of the rules issued by the competent bodies of the Sahara Autonomous Region. Its decisions shall be rendered in the name of the King, in complete independence. 

23 - The Regional High Court, the highest court in the Sahara Autonomous Region, decides in the final instance on the interpretation of the law of the region, without prejudice to the powers of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Council of the Kingdom. 

24- Laws, regulations and court rulings issued by the bodies of the Sahara Autonomous Region shall be in conformity with the Statute of Autonomy of the Sahara Autonomous Region and the Constitution of the Kingdom. 

25- The populations of the Region shall benefit from all the guarantees provided by the Moroccan Constitution in the field of human rights as they are universally recognised. 

26- The Sahara Autonomous Region shall have an Economic and Social Council composed of representatives of the economic, social, professional and associative sectors, as well as highly qualified personalities.

C- Process of approval and implementation of the Statute of Autonomy:

27- The Statute of Autonomy of the Region shall be the subject of negotiations and shall be subject to popular consultation in a free referendum of the populations concerned. This referendum constitutes, in accordance with international law, the United Nations Charter and the resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council, the free exercise by these populations of their right to self-determination. 

28- To this end, the parties undertake to work jointly and in good faith for this political solution and its approval by the populations of the Sahara. 

29- In addition, the Moroccan Constitution will be revised and the Statute of Autonomy will be incorporated into it as a guarantee of its stability and its privileged place in the national legal system. 

30- The Kingdom of Morocco will take all necessary measures to ensure that persons to be repatriated can be fully reintegrated into the national community, in conditions that guarantee their dignity, security and the protection of their property. 

31 - To this end, the Kingdom shall adopt in particular a general amnesty excluding any prosecution, arrest, detention, imprisonment or intimidation of any kind, based on facts covered by the amnesty. 

32- Subject to the agreement of the parties on the autonomy project, a Transitional Council composed of their representatives shall assist in the repatriation, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of armed elements located outside the territory, as well as any other action aimed at the adoption and implementation of the Statute, including electoral operations. 

33- Like the members of the international community, the Kingdom of Morocco is today convinced that the solution to the dispute over the Sahara can only be the result of negotiations. In this spirit, the proposal it is submitting to the United Nations constitutes a real opportunity to promote negotiations aimed at reaching a definitive solution to this dispute, within the framework of international legality and on the basis of arrangements in accordance with the purposes and principles set out in the United Nations Charter. 

34- Within this framework, Morocco undertakes to negotiate, in good faith, in a constructive spirit of openness and sincerity, in order to reach a final and mutually acceptable political solution to this dispute in the region. To this end, the Kingdom is ready to contribute actively to the establishment of a climate of confidence that could lead to the success of this project. 

35- The Kingdom of Morocco hopes that the other parties will appreciate the significance and scope of this initiative, appreciate its true value and make a positive and constructive contribution to it. The Kingdom considers that the momentum generated by this initiative offers a historic opportunity to settle this issue once and for all.