17-19 OCTOBER 2004, NOUAKCHOTT, MAURITANIA - 10TH MEDITERRANEAN DIALOGUE SEMINAR REPORT
TABLE OF CONTENTS
II. SESSION 1: MAURITANIA : INTERNAL STABILITY AND REGIONAL SECURITY
III. SESSION 2: SECURITY AND DEVELOPMENT IN MAURITANIA : THE ROLE OF INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS
IV. SESSION 3: ISLAM AND DEMOCRACY
V. SESSION 4: THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT: ITS EFFECT ON THE STABILITY OF THE REGION
VI. SESSION 5: REGIONAL CO-OPERATION
1. The 10th Mediterranean Special Group (GSM) seminar was held in Nouakchott in Mauritania from 17 to 19 October 2004. This seminar brought together members of Algerian, Jordanian, Moroccan and Israeli delegations and many non-parliamentary observers, institutions and research centres, who took part in the debates. For the first time the GSM welcomed Nour Eddin Bouchkouj, the Secretary General of the Arab Interparliamentary Union (AIPU), and Said Moughadam, the Secretary General of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) Consultative Council.
2. Mauritania is a country embracing several different geopolitical entities: the Maghreb, sub-Saharan Africa, the Sahel and the Mediterranean world. Although from its geography this is predominantly an Atlantic country, it shares a number of security concerns with its Mediterranean neighbours; these concerns were addressed in the course of this seminar.
3. In their opening address, His Excellency Mr Rachid Ould Saleh, the President of the Mauritanian National Assembly, and Cherif Ahmed Ould Mohamed Moussa, the leader of the Mauritanian delegation to the NATO PA, stressed the "organic relationship" between security and development, both being stabilising factors. The country's present policy, initiated by President Ould Taya, seeks to prioritise the campaign against poverty and illiteracy. Mauritania is a country of trade and interaction, and its geographical position links it to the countries of the Maghreb and the Mediterranean. It is firmly convinced that only dialogue and mutual understanding can overcome the new threats that have made their appearance in the region such as terrorism, extremism and illegal trafficking. Jean-Michel Boucheron (France), the GSM Chairman, thanked the Mauritanian parliamentary and governmental authorities for their welcome and for organising this seminar in their country, which is an integral part of the NATO partnership area.
4. In his speech on 'The role of Mauritania in regional and international organisations' Mohammed Vall Ould Bellal, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Co-operation, expressed his anxiety with regard to the transition phase that the world has been going through since the ending of the bipolar system. He dwelt on the lack of visibility in international policy and stressed that the development of cross-border threats such as terrorism had caused havoc throughout the region. Mauritania has a unique and strategic position, as a bridge between Africa and the Arab world, and is particularly concerned about the rise of various forms of extremism, the proliferation of mafia and terrorist networks, the steady increase in flows of immigrants to Europe and poverty in the region. The Minister briefed the GSM members on the principal elements of his country's foreign policy. The first priority of this policy was to establish Mauritania within the international circle of democratic countries oriented towards progress and peace in the world. On this matter the Minister emphasised his country's contribution to the negotiations on the Western Sahara or its role as originator of the pan-Sahelian movement against terrorism. Mauritania was also pursuing a policy of geopolitical equilibrium. It had no wish to be the "prisoner" of some alliance or other because of its geostrategic position. Mauritania was contributing to the regional peacekeeping effort by virtue of a policy of diversity. Thus Mauritania was active in the Arab League, in which it currently held the Presidency of the Council; it took part in the 5+5 Forum, and was active in the Mediterranean dialogues of the European Union and of NATO institutions. It maintained very close ties with members of the Economic Community of west African States (ECOWAS). It was a member of the AMU, the AIPU, the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and its Interparliamentary Union, the African Union (AU) and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), among others.
5. In reply to a question by Paolo Ricciotti (Italy) on Mauritania's relations with International Financial Institutions, the Minister explained that, as part of the campaign against poverty, his country was implementing many social, economic, educational, public health and ecological projects to improve the situation of the most impoverished. The Minister also took up a comment by Vahit Erdem (Turley) to lay stress on the many efforts being made by Mauritania to promote regional co-operation in combating terrorism, in particular with Niger and Chad or by virtue of the pan-Sahelian initiative.
6. Isselmou Ould Mohamed, President of the Mauritanian Monitoring and Evaluation Association (AMSE) and Secretary General of the Mauritanian Statisticians' Association (AMS) presented the socio-economic characteristics of his country. The latest census in 2000 reported a total population of 2. 5 million, some 50% being under 15 and 60% under 20 years of age. Life expectancy at birth was 54, but unfortunately the rate of infant mortality in the country was still high. He observed that in 1965 70% of the population was nomadic, which is not the case today except for a little less than 5% of the population. He added that nearly a quarter of the population lived in the capital, which created many urban problems. Mr Mohamed also made a point of mentioning a relative drop in poverty in the country between 1992 and 2000. Nonetheless 46% of the population was still living below the absolute poverty line, as against 56% in 1993. In 1977, when the first national census was carried out, 77% of the population was illiterate. Today no more than 46% of the population is illiterate, and encouraging trend. He observed that the average rate for Africa was 58% of the population, 10% for Europe and 30% for Asia. Lastly he added that about 1% of the population was affected by the AIDS virus, according to available statistics. Mr Mohamed stressed that the two principal causes of conflict in the world were disputes regarding the control of water and oil reserves. This region was no exception, and the Senegal River was a continuing bone of contention. There was another disagreement with Guinea about the management of water reserves upstream from Mauritania. He deplored the lack of regional machinery for the control of resources, and suggested the creation of a "prosperity zone" at the regional level, which would not only remove the risk of conflict, but above all would promote sharing of resources and substantial economic development.
7. In his speech on 'Strategic issues linked to the development of the oil industry in Mauritania' Mohamed Ould Awa, the director of the Chinguitty oilfield development project, noted the increase in interest in his country since the discovery of substantial oilfields. He stressed how important it was for the country to consider the future effects of oil exploitation on the running of the economy, ecology, etc. He was convinced that Mauritania should also set out to promote sustainable development, the fair sharing of resources and oil revenues and the promotion of other sectors of the economy. It was vital to involve regional partners and the countries bordering Mauritania in enhanced regional cooperation. Mauritania had now found two major oilfields with reserves estimated at 120 million barrels. The exploitation of these deposits should soon yield production of some 75000 barrels a day. He noted that unfortunately trade with poor countries was far from being fair. For example, today Chad was selling its oil at US $26 a barrel, while it was traded on the market at over US $60 a barrel.
8. In replying to questions, both speakers laid particular stress on the need for regional co-operation at all levels because all the countries in the region were interdependent, in terms of water supply, the control of territories and frontiers or combating poverty and inequality.
9. In his main address on 'the role of Mauritania in the Euro-Mediterranean space and the risks of Islamic radicalisation in sub-Saharan Africa' Jean-François Daguzan, Director of research at the Foundation for Strategic Research and editor in chief of the Revue Maghreb-Machreck, observed that the control of Sahelian space was an important strategic issue. As the vital link between the Maghreb and black Africa, Mauritania was the embodiment of local cultures and influences as well as the terrestrial and maritime ambitions of the countries in the region. The presence of active terrorist and Islamist groups in this Sahara-Sahel space was confirmed. The entire region was affected by illegal emigration movements, often on the way to Europe, but also by the development of illegal trafficking that was difficult to control. Despite belated recognition of the problem, a process of collaboration and anti-terrorism action was being established at the regional level. Discussions within the African Union, meetings of AMU Justice Ministers and the creation of an anti-terrorism centre in Algiers were examples of this mobilisation by the countries in the region. In 2002 the American State Department set up a programme to aid the campaign against terrorism, the "Pan-Sahelian Initiative (PSI) ". This programme, at a cost of US$ 125 million for 5 years, is open to Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania and includes several projects to improve frontier protection, to keep migratory movements under surveillance, to combat terrorism and to reinforce regional stability. Although the Barcelona Process had been disrupted by the political upheavals connected with the war in Iraq and had perhaps disappointed its Mediterranean partners in some respects, it was important for Europe to step up dialogue and cooperation with this strategic area of the Mediterranean, the Sahara and the Sahel. First of all, Mauritania must become a central partner in this exchange and a full member of Euromed.
10. In the course of the discussion Mr Daguzan repeated that the issue was not the radicalisation of Islam, but of individuals. The presence of the NATO PA in this country was a sign of its openness and tolerance. This visit provided an exceptional opportunity to get to know this part of the world. It was vital to develop a knowledge of the Arab-Islamic world and its culture in our western societies, in order to avoid the religion of Islam being lumped together with terror or the politico-religious extremism that is the spearhead of many terrorists. It should be remembered that the Mauritania Ulema officially condemned terrorism in a Fatwa published in 2003.
11. In his speech on 'The United States, NATO and the Arab Maghreb: Co-operation and partnerships', His Excellency Mr Joseph Lebaron, the United States Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, stressed the importance of supporting Mauritania in its efforts to unite regional forces to strengthen the campaign against terrorism. Dialogue with NATO institutions was an important factor in this undertaking. The United States wanted to make an active contribution to sustainable stability in the region and took the view that good governance, fighting corruption and establishing democratic institutions would help to establish prosperity and security in the region. With this in view the United States government was associated with many projects such as training the armed forces, technical assistance to the rapid reaction force set up as part of the Pan-Sahelian Initiative, as well as helping to strengthen monitoring and security on the country's frontiers.
12. In reply to a question from Jérôme Rivière (France), Ambassador Lebaron stated that there had indeed been a risk of proliferation of light weapons in the region. He added that his government was developing training programmes for this purpose for the military and representatives of civil society. Mauritania was a country open to dialogue. With regard to the proliferation of light weapons Cécile Molinier, the resident representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Mauritania, added with regard to such proliferation that the United Nations had appointed a special representative whose job was to submit a report on the current situation in the region. In addition, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had set up a moratorium on the movement of light weapons.
13. In reply to a question from Mr Boucheron, on the extent of the Mauritanian energy resources, the Ambassador stated that the oil reserves in Mauritania were still being evaluated, but that it was likely that Mauritania had reserves comparable to those of New Guinea.
14. Jean Eric Paquet, the Representative of the European Commission delegation in Mauritania, gave the members of the GSM a short briefing on the essentials of the European cooperation programmes in Mauritania. Cooperation with Mauritania had been in line with the ACP Lomé and subsequent Cotonou agreements since 2000. This co-operation gave priority to security and development. The Commission programmes were helping the authorities in this country to combat poverty and organised crime, to promote good governance, to protect the environment and to tackle any other potential causes of insecurity. The cooperation agreement signed in 2001 with Mauritania allocated a budget of €120 million, some 15% of which was assigned to institutional support programmes (good governance, promotion and development of civil society and institutions). The Commission was also supporting a fair number of projects linked to combating poverty, in particular sustainable development projects focusing on regional and infrastructure development. It was also assisting the restoration of irrigation systems and boreholes, the study of water management and the use of solar energy.
15. Mrs Molinier spoke about recent developments in the country from the political, economic and social viewpoint. It had been trying to adjust to international developments for two decades, and in 1986 had formulated a real "public life democratisation plan". This plan was initiated that year with the organisation of the first multi-party elections in the country's history since independence, which it gained in 1960. This process speeded up considerably in 1991-1992 with the adoption by referendum of a constitution guaranteeing basic freedoms, thus putting an end to thirteen years of emergency government. Opposition parties won 11 seats in the National assembly in the last elections, a sign that civic life was working smoothly. The same was true of the press, the diversity and tone of which were evidence of a measure of freedom of speech. Mauritania, which had recently signed a wide range of international conventions on human rights, was endeavouring to promote progress in this area and to encourage good governance and action against corruption. Mrs Molinier drew attention to the remarkable progress made in education, and observed that the gross percentage of children in primary education was over 90%. Nevertheless she noted the lack of progress, not to say the disturbing trends, in the area of health, and in particular the continuing high rates of mortality among mothers and children and the spread of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
16. In reply to a question from Hugh Bayley (United Kingdom), Mrs Molinier stated that it was very important for the country to link oil industry development closely to the overall issue of development. In particular it was essential for Mauritania to be vigilant and to take all necessary steps to protect nature and the ecological balance from the possible adverse effects of oil industry development. This was especially true in the case of fishery protection.
17. Loïc Bouvard (France) wondered about the women's rights situation and the continuance of practices resembling slavery. Damla Gürel (Turkey) asked Mrs Molinier what the position was regarding access to education for girls. Mrs Molinier stated that Mauritania had signed the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, adding that the country showed real willingness to break with taboos in this area, and that in two years great efforts had been made to consider violence against women, such as genital mutilation, and to take steps to combat it. Slavery in Mauritania was a recurring issue, which had recently been debated by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva. Slavery in the country had been abolished in 1981. It was difficult in practice to distinguish slavery from forced labpour, some cases of slavery still being officially presented as cases of economic dependence. Mauritania had also made very substantial efforts in education. She stated that 48% of primary school pupils were girls. Mrs Rich (German NGO) stressed that the result should also be measured in terms of the quality of education, not merely in terms of the number of pupils attending school.
18. Mohamed Abdulla Beyli added that slavery no longer existed in Mauritania but that there were still survivals from the past. Today the "Haratins", who were the descendants of slaves, were involved with the population as a whole in the efforts required to root out iniquities and discrimination in the country. Mr Moussa referred to the numerous projects conducted in collaboration with the Islamic clergy and the Ulema to eradicate the "after-effects of slavery" and inhuman and unacceptable practices such as female circumcision or polygamy.
19. Matt Mint Ewnen (Mauritania) stressed that enormous progress had been made recently in this area by virtue of the political will in the country, but also because of the correct application of the rules of Islam that safeguard women's rights. As a result, women in Mauritania were entitled to access to professional and public life. She also asked for clarification of the concepts of terrorism and fundamentalism that had been mentioned several times during this debate. Mr Khiar (Algeria) added that the countries of the Maghreb were special targets for terrorists. The countries in this region should be given resources to combat the scourge of terrorism, which affected them above all. Mr Boucheron replied that we should take care not to be too hasty in lumping these phenomena together. Terrorism was not solely an Islamic event: all our societies were affected by it - terrorist acts by Christian militants against abortion in Europe or the United States, the assassination of Itzhak Rabin by Jewish extremists or the assassination of hostages by Muslims in Iraq.
20. In reply to a question by Mr Ould Diah on the interaction between development and setting up the rule of law, Mrs Molinier repeated the statements by the Secretary General of the United Nations: "There is no development without peace and without stability". She stressed the importance of the "rule of law" element in development programmes. Mr Jean Eric Paquet supported this theory and added that a whole Chapter in the Cotonou Agreements recommended the promotion of political dialogue, democratic reforms and consolidation of the rule of law. Moreover, the European Commission was sponsoring more and more projects for institutional support and the development of civil society and institutions.
21. In her speech, Professor Mualla Selçuk, Dean of the University of Ankara, faculty of theology, put forward a view of democracy through a reading of the Koran. She stressed that the Koran laid down fundamental principles which supported the principle of democracy; the Taa'ruf principle, which literally meant understanding the other person. This included the values of justice, mutual aid and mutual understanding, as well as the principles of consultation and tolerance, which were the foundations of the democratic system. Islam viewed human relations by way of the principles of reason and freedom and extolled the virtues of free will. The Koran showed the way to the knowledge essential to decision-making but made the individual responsible in respect of his duties and his decisions.
22. Mr Hamden Ould Tah, an Islamic scholar, stated that Islam was a religion of dialogue and discussion with others. One of the basic principles of Islam was "Shura", the consultation of wise men supplemented by the acceptance of those decisions by the masses. This was the principle on which Islamic civilisations were built before colonisation. The period of colonisation had imposed new rules on this system, which had since lost its unity. Thus Islam was fully involved in redefining its principles. The definition of democracy as "government of the people by the people" ran counter to the Islamic law of divine right, because it was a secular definition of the community and of human relations. Nevertheless Islam was a flexible religion, which had adapted to socio-political change and now accepted that political elites and leaders should be chosen by way of elections. Election was temporary, while divine appointment was eternal. Voting was accepted on organisational grounds. 'Reasons of State' was another concept that found no place in the religious view of the organisation of political life in Islamic lands. Thus much still remained to be done in closing the gap between the theological and religious principles of Islam and present-day constitutional law. This could only be achieved by dialogue and exchange of views.
23. Pierre Lellouche (France) raised the issue of acceptance of separation of the temporal and the spiritual. Can an Islamic Republic promote the separation of powers, not to say the equality of the sexes? Mr Ould Tah stated that a dual approach should be retained in this discussion, considering the religion of the individual and the State system that aimed to protect the values of Islam. In addition there were many bad interpretations of the principles of Islam, its appropriation as a war slogan by terrorists being one example. Mr Samba (Mauritania) added that the debate on separation of Church and State was typically western, and the issue did not arise in Mauritania. Abderrahman Lmtioui (Morocco) added that a monarchist regime could also be a democracy. Marian Pilka (Poland) stated that the central issue in this debate on Islam and democracy was respect for individual choices, and the recent "headscarf crisis" in France proved it. One of the participants also noted that Mr Bourguiba had once forbidden officials to celebrate Ramadan, because the efficiency of the government was too badly affected. This was proof that the ruling power was not always dominated by the religious power. He also pointed out that an unelected politician was not necessarily non-democratic.
24. His Excellency Mr Boaz Bismuth, the Israeli Ambassador in Mauritania, welcomed this meeting and expressed the wish that this opportunity would arise again. Israel did not like to think that this war was inevitable. Despite the fact that the hopes engendered by the Oslo process had been dashed, he repeated that his country had complete confidence in the negotiation process. He observed that Israel had a duty to protect its civil population, just as the Palestinian Authority had the duty to protect its own. The Israeli authorities had been greatly disappointed by the lack of Palestinian support in putting an end to chaos and terrorist attacks. Unfortunately this year also was marked by many civilian and military casualties. No nation in the world had been as severely affected by suicide attacks as the State of Israel. "Since September 2000 over 900 Israelis have been killed in terrorist attacks". Israel was building a security fence in order to tackle this new wave of violence. "The lack of such a fence makes it easy to infiltrate Israeli localities". The Ambassador added that "the right of self-defence is embodied in international law". The purpose of this fence "was not to annex Palestinian land or to alter the legal status of Palestinians". It was apparent that this was the only way of enabling the Israeli authorities to protect their people. In order to relaunch the peace process on the basis of the "road map" it was essential for the Palestinians to put an end to this chaos and violence. They should, inter alia, "break up the terrorist organisations, confiscate weapons, arrest those who plan and carry out terrorist attacks, cease to initiate or encourage violence and resume security co-operation with Israel". Lastly, the Ambassador reaffirmed his country's conviction that a political solution could be found to this bloody conflict and its willingness to find it. He stressed that Israel's diplomatic relations with three countries in the Arab-Muslim world, Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania, was an important and positive sign in favour of dialogue in the Middle East. Nevertheless he regretted the closure of Israeli diplomatic missions in Tunis and Rabat following the start of the second Intifada and hoped that the negotiations now in progress would facilitate the reopening of these missions.
25. In his speech, His Excellency Mr Abdel Shafi Mahmoud Siyam, the Palestinian Ambassador in Mauritania, remarked that since the Madrid conference not only had the situation on the ground worsened, there was unfortunately no positive sign of a resumption in negotiations. The Palestinian Authority wished to create a State with its own capital, in accordance with international law and UN standards. This had been the policy pursued by the Palestinian Authority since Mr Arafat's speech at the United Nations in 1974. Unfortunately the present situation showed that Israel was not prepared to abide by international conventions and the agreements signed by both parties, even when these came with international guarantees. We should be realistic and describe the de facto situation as it is. Palestine was a victim of oppression of the weak by the strong, and was in no way responsible for the check in the negotiations. The Palestinians had put forward concrete and objective proposals, which had not found support. He took the view that the Palestinians had also made substantial concessions, which had yielded no results. He also remarked on the political ambiguity of certain powers and noted contradictory American positions in particular. He added that Palestinians were convinced that a policy of "one law for the rich and another for the poor" could only make the situation worse and endanger any resumption of negotiations. That was why the Palestinian Authority thought it essential for the UN to have an authoritative role as mediator in order to guarantee impartiality and fairness in the negotiations. The fact that all the countries in the region were victims of terrorism should not be forgotten. Combating terrorism should not be used as a pretext for other political objectives, as had also been the case with the intervention in Iraq. Neither should we forget the 8000 Palestinian prisoners held by the Israeli authorities under appalling conditions. This was another obstacle to building the confidence essential to the resumption of negotiations. The Palestinian Authority can see no option other than a withdrawal to the 1967 frontiers; compensation for property confiscated and destroyed, and at the time had asked for the clear lifting of the embargo against President Arafat. Instability in the region was the result of the absence of peace; the Palestinians wanted to build peace and tackle the causes of instability, and to promote development in the region. The Palestinians had chosen democracy and peace, and should be supported in their endeavours.
26. Mr Moussa observed that the "wall" was separating Palestinians from other Palestinians, or from their lands. He said that in no circumstances should the withdrawal from Gaza lead to increased colonisation on the West Bank. Mrs Ewnen stressed that the presence of representatives of both parties to the conflict today was a hopeful sign. Mr Bayley stated that in his country each new Israeli victim served to increase support for the Israeli cause. He added that the building of the "wall" was not merely evidence of the policy of apartheid; it was an absolute bar to the building of a Palestinian state, which could not be economically viable in this state of isolation. Mr Rivière expressed his disappointment regarding the political message in Palestinian schoolbooks, in which the maps did not show the State of Israel and its history was ignored. It was essential to develop knowledge and mutual understanding in order to prepare for peace. Mr Momani (Jordan) said that unfortunately Israel had gone back on some of its agreements with Jordan, in particular those on water management. He added that Israel's policy of colonisation and the building of the wall were likely to result in a fresh influx of Palestinians into Jordan. More than one-third of the Jordanian population was of Palestinian origin and most of the lands currently colonised belonged to those refugees now living in Jordan. Consequently there was no possibility of a return. He also said that many Jordanians were being held by the Israeli authorities, who refused to release them. He added that the Jordanian authorities were extremely concerned about the radiation emitted by the Israeli reactor, which was increasing the risk of cancer in the region. He was outraged by the lack of international reaction to this extremely worrying development and by the fact that Israel gave no thought to the health of Jordanians. Mr Kara (Israel) noted that for the most part the wall followed the line of the 1967 frontier. Its presence was justified by the need for security and the complete absence of responsible contacts. Mr Samba denounced the lumping together of several issues. This conflict should be viewed from the historical and political angles, and raising the issue of terrorism could only delay discussion of the real causes of the conflict.
27. Nour Eddin Bouchkouj gave a short briefing on the activities of the AIPU, the organisation that he represented. The AIPU was created in 1974 in Damascus and had 22 members, all of which were also members of the Arab League. Its aim was to promote political exchanges and dialogue among Arab parliaments. For this purpose the AIPU organised debates on regional developments, the development of democracy and the promotion of human rights and supported research and studies on pan-Arab interests and issues. The AIPU included a conference that met every two years, a council that met once a year (the 45th session was in 2004) and an international secretariat in Damascus, Syria. Two new committees were to be set up in the near future, the "Committee for study of the position of handicapped persons in the Arab world" and the "Committee for combating corruption in the Arab world". These would supplement the five committees that already exist: "legal", "politics and international relations", "finance and economics", "culture, environment and education" and "woman and child". The AIPU assigned a high priority to the Arab-African dialogue. It met every other year in an African country. Mauritania had a privileged position in this dialogue and took an active part in all the activities of the Union.
29. Mr Daguzan stressed that despite the many initiatives that now exist for supporting the development of real regional co-operation, this had not yet come to pass and was still very theoretical. It seemed that very often the regional dialogue was obstructed by political issues. These obstructions would have to be overcome for the purpose of actively promoting the cross-border co-operation essential to development and to the economic, commercial, security and environmental equilibrium of the region. Mr El Hafedh (Mauritania) emphasised the importance of revitalising the pan-African and Arab-African dialogues. He said that the Arab nation "was wounded", in particular by the conflict in the Near East but also by the war in Iraq or the crisis in the Sudan, and that in this context only solidarity and co-operation could help the countries in the region to overcome their problems - together. Mr Khalidou (Mauritania) regretted that these initiatives, which had originally embodied the hopes of many peoples and nations, had not yet come to fruition and repeated that it was essential to relaunch the dialogue. Mr Samba added that unfortunately there were also obstructive factors within the region, such as the conflict on the Western Sahara.