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Vol 39 No 2

Published 23rd January 1998

Desert diplomacy

Hopes for peace revive but neither side may accept defeat in the referendum

Hopes of resolving the 25-year conflict in Western Sahara were sharply raised by the 7 December announcement of a referendum on the territory's future. Yet despite the success of former United States' Secretary of State James Baker in bringing Polisario and Moroccan government officials into direct talks, three main problems could still derail the referendum: continuing differences over voters' lists, a lack of international monitoring and the fact that neither side might accept a vote that goes against it.

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