Sahara : Italian official urges Polisario to forget self-determination referendum option

Italy’s deputy foreign minister Mario Giro urged the Polisario Front to abandon the self-determination referendum option it has been claiming in its territorial dispute with Morocco over Western Sahara.

Mario Giro launched the call while he was participating on Tuesday (June 27) in a debate, at the Center for American Studies in Rome, on the book “The Sahara: a desert for mafia and jihad”.

The book by Massimiliano Boccolini and Alessio Postiglione was recently published by the Italian editing house Castelvecchi.

Mario Giro, ex-trade unionist and mediator since 1990 for Peace with the Sant’Egidio community, argued in his presentation that “this is not the time for new national demands” in an unstable region like the Sahel. On the contrary, he insisted, “we should defend the territorial integrity of countries like Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt”.

Referring to separatist claims by the Azawad movement in Northern Mali and the Polisario in Southern Morocco, the Italian official underscored that “today, blowing up the border of a country has uncontrollable consequences. We saw what happened in Iraq and in Syria”.

In their book “The Sahara: a desert for mafia and jihad”, Massimiliano Boccolini, a journalist and academic, and Alessio Postiglione, a former magistrate, journalist, academic and militant of the Italian left, who used to support the Polisario, shed light on the instability generated by the presence of the separatist front in the Maghreb and Sahel region.

For the authors of the book, the fragile stability in this region is endangered by the persistence of conflicts and presence of armed groups.

They insist in the preamble of their book on all the dangers looming on the region such as Daech’s expansion, the role of mafia groups, the Polisario Front’s activity and the Tuaregs’ resort to arms again. The Sahara has become a crossroads of trafficking in weapons, drugs and human beings, the authors argue.

The authors of the book, the Italian deputy foreign minister and other participants in the debate share the view that the Morocco-proposed autonomy plan for the Sahara would be the appropriate solution for a mutually acceptable political settlement of this territorial conflict, which endangers stability in the Maghreb and in the Sahel.

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