Morocco’s autonomy plan for Western Sahara continues to gain international support. This time, Chile and Brunei Darussalam have backed the Moroccan initiative aimed at settling the Sahrawi dispute that has lasted more than four decades.
Since Spain’s departure from the territory as a colonising power, clashes over the political and social future of Western Sahara have raged for more than 40 years. Morocco proposes a formula of broad autonomy for the area under Moroccan sovereignty through an Autonomy Plan based on 35 key points that seeks to develop socially, politically, legally and economically an area in need of greater development. In the face of this proposal are the postulates of the Polisario Front, which advocates holding a referendum on the independence of the Sahrawi people, which is seen by various analysts as problematic due to the problems involved, particularly with regard to the electoral roll. The Polisario option has less international backing and its main supporter is Algeria, a bitter political rival of Morocco, with which it broke off relations in August 2021 after accusing the Kingdom of “hostile acts” and due to deep political disagreements, particularly over the Western Sahara issue.
Important countries on the international scene, such as the United States, Germany, the United Arab Emirates and even Spain, have strongly supported Morocco in its project for Western Sahara, which is mainly based on respect for UN resolutions and respects the important work currently being carried out by Staffan de Mistura, the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy for Western Sahara, who recently held bilateral contacts with the parties involved in order to bring them closer together. In this sense, many see the Moroccan alternative as the most serious, credible and realistic way to resolve the Saharawi conflict.
Also on the long list of countries backing Morocco are two other nations, Chile and Brunei Darussalam, which have reiterated their unconditional support for Morocco’s Autonomy Plan, aimed at achieving a definitive solution to the Western Sahara conflict.
Brunei Darussalam praised Morocco for its tireless pursuit of a ‘lasting and peaceful’ solution to the long-standing Western Sahara dispute, as reported on the Moroccan Foreign Ministry’s Twitter account and in media outlets such as Morocco World News. Brunei Darussalam’s deputy Foreign Minister, Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof, expressed his nation’s position after a meeting with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita. Bourita himself highlighted Brunei’s “positive and consistent stance” and Brunei’s valuable support.
This meeting also marked a remarkable event for the bilateral relations between the two countries, as it was the first visit of Minister Pehin Yusof to Morocco since the establishment of diplomatic ties 35 years ago.
In addition, Bourita and Pehin Yusof signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on bilateral cooperation and consultation with the aim of strengthening diplomatic and even economic ties.
Together with Brunei Darussalam, Chile once again demonstrated its “unwavering support” for Morocco’s Autonomy Plan, aimed at achieving a definitive solution to the Western Sahara dispute.
In the same vein, Francisco Chahuán, president of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Chilean Senate, emphasised Chile’s historic position on Morocco’s territorial integrity during his talks with Nasser Bourita himself in Rabat.
Francisco Chahuán stressed that the South American country has always defended Morocco’s territorial integrity, which is in line with its support for the Moroccan kingdom in relation to the Sahara issue. He expressed Chile’s intention to work together with Morocco to obtain support for the autonomy plan, particularly in the Latin American region.
Chahuán headed an important delegation from the Chilean Senate, invited by the Chamber of Councillors, demonstrating the Chilean government’s support for Morocco’s position.
On the other hand, both diplomatic representatives also showed their intention to reinforce diplomatic and economic cooperation between the two countries, the latter through a Free Trade Agreement that would strengthen commercial exchanges between the two nations.