Moreover, there is currently no agreement on what can be done to overcome the existing deadlock over the Peace Plan for the Self-Determination of the People of Western Sahara, the Secretary-General writes in a report to the Security Council. “The goal of enabling the people of Western Sahara to exercise their right to self-determination thus remains elusive,” he says. The plan, originally proposed last year by the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy James Baker, who has since resigned, envisages a period of transition during which there would be a division of responsibilities between the Morocco and the Frente POLISARIO before the holding of a referendum for self-determination. Mr. Annan also expresses deep concern about the recent escalation in public rhetoric emanating from the parties and the region, and urges them to exercise the utmost restraint. As for the status of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), originally deployed in September 1991 to monitor the ceasefire, the Secretary-General recommends either the maintenance of the status quo or the withdrawal of no more than 37 of the current 203 military observers. “The effective monitoring of the ceasefire between the parties by MINURSO over the last 13 years has been a major stabilizing and confidence-building achievement,” he says. Both sides have “expressed their strong preference that there should be no reduction in the size of the Mission, especially at this time.” If approved by the Council, the mandate would be extended until 30 April 2005. read more