Moroccan king promises W. Sahara plan

Nov. 7, 2001 at 2:39 PM
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RABAT, Morocco, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- Moroccan King Mohammed VI has announced an economic and social development plan in the breakaway region of Western Sahara as part of a policy to regain control over it.

In a speech broadcast Tuesday night, Mohammed promised to personally supervise the implementation of the plan, which he said was aimed at "securing a decent living for all citizens."

He said the inhabitants of the Western Sahara as well as their elected councils and committees would be consulted on the proposed plan.

On the dispute, Mohammed called on all parties to be "objective" about the proposed U.N.-backed agreements.

"Morocco has accepted this political settlement because it guarantees the complete respect of Morocco's national sovereignty and unity," said Mohammed, adding that regardless of any developments, Morocco would hold on to "its territories and sovereignty."

The late Moroccan King Hassan II organized a 350,000-strong march into the region after the Spanish colonialist powers evacuated Western Sahara in 1975. Since then, the region has been the site of tensions between Algeria and Morocco.

Algeria is accused of supporting the Polisario Front, which opposes Morocco's plans to annex Western Sahara, and wants a referendum to determine the fate of the region.

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