The Vice-President of the Centre for Research and Studies in Social Sciences (CRESS), Amina Messaoudi and Director of the Centre for Constitutional Studies and Policies (CECOP) M’hamed Maliki on Sunday highlighted the importance of the Autonomy Plan, presented by Morocco in April 2007, as a “credible” and a “serious” solution to the Sahara conflict, according to MAP news agency.

Speaking at a meeting on “The Maghreb in the wake of current regional mutations”, organized by the Aljazeera Research Center, Amina Messaoudi said that the Moroccan proposal to grant greater autonomy to the “southern provinces,” “has been widely welcomed by the international community given that it meets international standards.”

Describing the proposed plan as bold and courageous, the Vice-President of CRESS stressed that this initiative proposes to grant substantial and broad powers to the “southern provinces.”

She also recalled that Sahrawi identity is present in provisions of the new Constitution, noting that this issue is also present in the autonomy project which calls for the promotion of Sahrawi Hassani heritage.

In reading the project of autonomy, Amina Mesaoudi noted that “the outcome of the negotiations on the statute of Autonomy will be submitted to a referendum of the people concerned,” a consultation which, she described as “in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly and the UN Charter regarding the free exercise of the principle of self-determination.

For his part, the president of CECOP emphasized that the autonomy proposal presented by Morocco gained international consensus given its realism and credibility to find a solution to a conflict that has lasted over 30 years. “The Moroccan initiative, based on a rational approach, cannot be ignored,” he noted.

The conference, which lasted for two days, focused on several themes including, “the political and constitutional reforms in the Maghreb”, “development projects and economic relations: opportunities and challenges”, “the impact of the Arab Spring on Maghreb region”, “the crisis in northern Mali and its regional impact, “” the Arab Maghreb Union: the regional and international context ” and ” the Maghreb and East inclusive contexts.”

The conference was attended by a number of scholars, politicians and civil society activists from Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania and Morocco.

Reporting by Said Temsamani