OAU deadlocked on Polisario status

Attempts to convene the summit conference of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) here in the Ethiopian capital appear to be foundering. The 50-member organization, whose members are gathered here, has so far failed to reach agreement on the status of the Polisario, the liberation movement of the Western Sahara. For eight years, Polisario has been fighting a guerrilla war against Morocco with the backing of both Algeria and Libya.

A nine-member committee representing Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Congo, Uganda, Cape Verde, Mauritania, and Zambia has been established to contact the 19 member states whose absence prevented the holding of an informal summit June 7, aimed at resolving the Polisario dispute. A spokesman for the OAU told a press conference that pending these contacts the summit would formally open June 8.

Privately many black African delegates resent that their regional forum may be destroyed by what they see as a mainly Arab dispute.

But the Polisario issue is splitting black Africa into a moderate and a radical camp.

Various OAU delegates have warned this week that the failure of this third attempt to convene the OAU summit within a year could lead to the demise of the organization. The summit was scheduled to open June 6.

The 19 boycotting states view the admittance of Polisario to the summit as illegal.

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