PJD’s Saadeddine Othmani: Gov’t-Polisario Talks Long, Complicated

The Justice and Development Party (PJD) welcomed the current talks between the Moroccan government and Polisario Front after tens of years of stagnation
Dr. Saadeddine Othmani, the secretary general of the Moroccan Justice and Development Party (PJD) welcomed the launch of negotiations between the government and Polisario Front after tens of years of stagnation. However, the negotiations between both parties as complicated and very hard.
Othmani said in a statement to Ikhwanweb: The first round of the UN-brokered negotiations between Morocco and Polisario delegations in Manhast, New York, last June, 18-19. These negotiations are related to the future and status of the Moroccan desert. However, this round didn’t achieve any considerable progress in order to bringing closer attitudes of both parties. They agreed on holding a second round next August .
Othmani  pointed out that there are international indications demanding no Saharawis participate in the Moroccan delegation, a move that Morocco rejected. The Saharawis enjoy a full citizenship and boast of the Moroccan national sovereignty like other Moroccans. Trying to prevent them from participating in the negotiating delegation is an attempt to establish a false illusion circulated by some parties. This false illusion is that all Saharawis are separatist. The fact on the ground is that 65 % of them are living in their country, Morocco, and take part in the diplomatic and political action since independence, fifty years ago. Many Saharawis worked as ministers, ambassadors and officials at all levels, and they participated in elections of successive parliaments throughout this period. Morocco insisted that Saharawis can participate in the negotiating delegation which included the chairman of the royal advisory council for the Desert affairs, Sayed Khalihna Ould Al-Rashid. This shows that the Polisario front represents only a minority of Saharawis.
Othmani added that:” After the end of the round, the participants repeated phrases like “a long process started”, and that the series “will not be easy”, because it is related to “extremely difficult negotiations” according to Michael Mountas, spokesman of the UN Secretary-General. Statements of some parties showed that the main basis of this round is “establishing dialogue” and an attempt at “breaking with the past”.
Othmani said:” We think that we shall face marathonic and complicated negotiations. Both parties attitudes are miles apart. Morocco stresses on issues of sovereignty and national unity and rejects the emergence of a small country in its southern regions. While the Polisario front speaks only about ” the right of self-determination for the Desert residents”. They mean establishing a country of their own, after announcing a long time ago the so called ” the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic”. It is well known that the Saharawis’ demands for a self-determination contradicts with a unilateral declaration of a republic, and contradicts with the UN resolutions in this issue.
It’s worth mentioning that the so called Desert issue emerged in the cold war when Algeria was allied with the eastern camp and Morocco was allied with the western camp. Radical left elements called for establishing ” a desert republic ” after Morocco managed to liberate its southern desert from the Spanish colonization.
Asked about the attitude of the Justice and Development Party’s attitude towards solving the Moroccan desert, Othmani  said:” The Justice and Development Party’s emerges from principles of the Islamic unity and out of a feeling of the dangers of division that colonization tries to continuously sow in the body of the Islamic Nation. Therefore, we consider attempts of dividing Morocco and its desert a rejected policy. We consider national sovereignty a red line that mustn’t be crossed. Thus, we expect official attitudes to be stronger as much as stressing national constants is concerned.
Othmani  added:” As the conflict around the Moroccan desert is going on, the proposal of autonomy emerged as an optimum solution that leads to a final solution, because it preserves the national sovereignty and gives at the same time wide authorities for residents of the desert regions to be able to run their own affairs. We, in the Justice and Development Party, see this as the only possible way for a conciliating solution. We see also that applying the autonomy proposal in the southern regions should take place according to the following items:
First: that it emerges as a part of a wide front that includes all parts fo Morocco, and that it becomes a political region prescribed in the constitution.
Second: Giving the desert regions more authorities and an autonomy that provides a  parliament and a government that emerge from free and fair elections.
Third: Morocco should go on carrying out this proposal, not only because solving the desert issue is related to this expanded region, but also because it needs a real development and a way for developing its rule system through moving beyond a centralism of rule to a method that gives more authorities to the regions.
Fourth: Morocco should voluntarily apply the proposal of autonomy in the southern regions without waiting for international agreements. The country should also maintain negotiations to develop the system of autonomy after applying it.