HC Deb 13 January 1998 vol 304 c131
4. Mr. Corbyn

What monitoring he proposes of the United Nations referendum on the future of the Western Sahara. [20415]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Derek Fatchett)

We shall monitor the referendum, whenever it takes place, especially through our mission to the United Nations in New York and through our embassies in north Africa. It is too early to say whether we shall send monitors to the referendum itself.

Mr. Corbyn

Does the Minister recognise that, during the 24 years of Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara, Morocco has constantly obstructed the efforts of the United Nations to bring about peace and to register the people who live or belong to the Western Sahara? Will he ensure that any monitoring that takes place is of the entire process, not merely voting, and that the European Union, the Commonwealth and this country all send observers in the run-up period as well as during the very welcome referendum so that, at last, the people of the Western Sahara can see peace and prosperity, free from military rule?

Mr. Fatchett

I share my hon. Friend's view that the best way to make progress in the Western Sahara is through the referendum. We are monitoring the initial processes to ensure the objectives to which my hon. Friend refers. We all hope that those processes go speedily and that the referendum will take place on schedule on 8 December.

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