Laayoune – Over 30,000 Saharawis gathered on Saturday in front of the United Nations Mission for the Organization of the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), and called on the UN mission to leave the territory.Protestors chanted slogans against the UN presence on the territory and pointed out that its presence has become irrelevant in light of the mega projects King Mohammed VI has launched this weekend on the 40th anniversary of the Green March.Elected officials, sheikhs (heads of Sahrawi tribes) and representatives of civil society said on Saturday during a sit-in outside the headquarters of MINURSO in Laayoune that the Moroccan autonomy proposal presented to the Security Council in April 2007 is the only solution to the conflict. Participants in the sit-in chanted slogans reaffirming their attachment to the autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty, a proposal that has been described by a number of influential countries as “serious” and paving the ground towards finding a settlement to the conflict.Several heads of Sahrawi tribes called on the United Nations to lift its hands off the conflict and leave Moroccans to find a solution among themselves. They pointed the development projects launched by Morocco and the progress achieved in the territory since 1975.Others called on King Mohammed VI to visit the territory more often and reaffirmed the Moroccanness of the Sahara.Carrying the national flag and portraits of King Mohammed VI, participants in this event highly welcomed the content of the royal address to the nation on Friday on the the 40th anniversary of the Green March.They also called on the international community to take urgent action to lift the blockade imposed on the Saharawis living in harsh conditions in Tindouf camps in the Algerian territory, put an end to their suffering, and allow them to return to Morocco and live with dignity.Since Morocco presented its autonomy plan in 2007, it has received tacit support from a number of veto-wielding powers, chief of which the United States, which calls on the parties to reach a mutually acceptable political solution.Following King Mohammed VI’s visit to Washington DC in November 2013, the White House reiterated that the Moroccan autonomy proposal is “serious, realistic and credible.”“Morocco’s autonomy plan is serious, realistic and credible,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.“It represents a potential approach that can satisfy the aspirations of the people in the Western Sahara to run their own affairs in peace and dignity,” he added.The same position, which calls for finding a political and mutually agreed upon solution to the conflict is advocated by the European Union.Last October, Fedredica Mogherini, EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said “the EU encourages parties to seek a negotiated settlement to the conflict and supports the UN process.”

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