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James Baker, Annan’s Western Sahara Envoy Resigns

James Baker, Annan’s Personal Envoy For Western Sahara, Resigns

Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, James A. Baker III of the United States, has resigned, a spokesperson for the United Nations said today.

Since his appointment in March 1997, Mr. Baker, along with the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), has been helping the parties settle the territory’s status. The Mission has been operating since April 1991, when it was installed after years of fighting between Western Saharans and Morocco following Spain’s withdrawal from the territory in 1976.

Last year the UN issued a suggested peace plan, backed by the Security Council as an “optimum political solution,” between Morocco and the Frente POLISARIO (Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro) that would have given Mr. Baker, as Personal Envoy, responsibility for a referendum determining whether the people of Western Sahara choose independence or integration with Morocco.

But in April Morocco rejected the peace plan and proposed to give Western Sahara limited autonomy.

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