Sahara Autonomy Plan, “Most Important Gain” of Human Rights: Official

The Moroccan autonomy initiative, proposed as a settlement to the Sahara issue, is the “most important gain” in human rights matters, said on Thursday Moroccan Delegate-Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Mbarka Bouaida.

“On the basis of this initiative, local populations will be free to make choices and manage their own affairs within representative institutions and in the total respect of local specificities”, explained Bouaida who was guest to MAP forum themed “human rights in the Sahara and the UN system, Moroccan interaction.”

The minister argued that granting autonomy to the Sahara will establish a “local practice” of human rights in this region, through executive, legislative and judiciary bodies which are competent in various walks of the local social, economic and cultural life.

The autonomy plan includes a UN-supervised referendum to give to Sahrawi populations the opportunity to practice freely their right to self-determination, she stressed, noting that the strong human rights component of the plan was welcomed internationally as a serious and credible initiative.

Bouaida went on that the situation of human rights in the Sahara has considerably benefited from the presence of a multitude of political parties, trade unions and non-governmental associations, in addition to the two regional commissions of human rights in Laayoune and Dakhla.

After underlining the strong correlation between human rights and socio-economic development, the official stressed the pertinence of the Southern provinces development model, presented in 2013 by the economic, social and environmental council which laid the foundations for a long-term integrated and ambitious policy.

She further noted that significant headways have been made, as illustrated by the development indicators of the Southern Provinces which “are among the best ones at the national level”