On 40th Anniversary of Green March, King Mohammed VI Lauds Autonomy Plan, Pledges to Turn Western Sahara Into African Hub

"When Morocco Promises Something, It Delivers"

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - November 07, 2015) - In a speech delivered from Laâyoune, Morocco on Friday, November 6 and marking the 40th anniversary of the Green March, King Mohammed VI lauded Morocco's autonomy plan for the region and pledged to "make the Moroccan Sahara a hub for communication and exchange with sub-Saharan African countries."

The King reiterated that "by starting to implement advanced regionalization and adopting a development model, Morocco wishes to increase the chances of finding a lasting solution to the artificial dispute over our territorial integrity." Morocco's autonomy initiative, which the US has repeatedly deemed "serious, realistic, and credible," would offer the territory advanced autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty. Echoing similar statements made in last year's Green March speech, the King stated that the autonomy plan "is the most Morocco can offer. Its implementation will hinge on achieving a final political settlement within the framework of the United Nations Organization. Those who are waiting for any other concession on Morocco's part are deceiving themselves. Indeed, Morocco has given all there was to give."

"When Morocco promises something, it delivers in both word and deed," said the King, referring to the country's regionalization plan, which aims to devolve power to local and regional governments. "Today, advanced regionalization is a reality on the ground, with its institutions and its prerogatives. Morocco promised democracy and pledged to enable the inhabitants of its southern provinces to run their local affairs. They have now chosen their representatives and are freely and responsibly involved in local institutions."

"Morocco also promised to come up with a specific development model for its southern provinces," said the King. "Today, we have launched large-scale, defining projects that will generate wealth and create jobs."

To this end the King announced a number of new development projects for the region, including an enhanced road network; airports to serve African destinations; "a rail link between Tangier and Lagouira to connect Morocco with the rest of Africa"; and a new economic development fund that will "support businesses and the social economy, generate steady income and create jobs, particularly for young people." Stressing "the special place the Hassani culture has in the hearts and minds of Saharan people," he pledged to build theaters, museums and cultural centers that preserve and promote Saharan heritage.

Further on the political stalemate, King Mohammed VI urged the international community to recognize Algeria's role in the suffering of tens of thousands of Sahrawi refugees living in Polisario-run refugee camps in southwest Algeria.

"Where have the millions of dollars of humanitarian aid gone -- more than 60 million Euros a year -- not to mention the billions of Euros spent on armament for the separatists and on their propaganda and apparatus of repression?" he said, referring to recently uncovered reports of widespread aid diversion by the Polisario. "Why has not Algeria done anything to improve the living conditions of the Tindouf camp population?"

The King encouraged the refugees in the camps to return to a "free and dignified life" in Morocco where they would be welcomed, saying that they "deserve better than these inhuman conditions."

"The King's speech illustrated his determination to move past the political stalemate and do what's right for the people of Western Sahara, Morocco, and the region," said former US Ambassador to Morocco Edward M. Gabriel. "Last year, the King made special note of the US's and international community's role in supporting Morocco's efforts. Now, the message is clear: Morocco isn't waiting."

The Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to inform opinion makers, government officials, and interested publics in the United States about political and social developments in Morocco and the role being played by the Kingdom of Morocco in broader strategic developments in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.

This material is distributed by the Moroccan American Center for Policy on behalf of the Government of Morocco. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC.

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Jordana Merran

Morocco's King Mohammed VI delivers a speech on the 40th anniversary of the Green March, November 6, 2015.