Western Sahara. The UN Security Council extended the
mandate of the UN Force MINURSO several times. The latest
decision is for February 2003. The 540 observers will check
the ceasefire from 1991 and prepare for a referendum on V's
future. But the independence movement Polisario and Morocco
remained deeply in dispute over the terms of the referendum,
for example. who has the right to vote.
During the year, the Council discussed other solutions,
including that V. would be granted some autonomy in Morocco,
which has in practice controlled the area since 1975.
Polisario opposed the idea.
Moroccan King Muhammad VI said in a televised speech in
November that the UN-backed plan for a referendum on V's
future was "outdated".
UN refugee commissioner Ruud Lubbers criticized in early
October the political inability to resolve the conflict,
which resulted in more than 150,000 Saharans still living in
miserable refugee camps in southwestern Algeria.