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UN Security Council Consultations Establish Status Quo in Western Sahara

UN Security Council Consultations Establish Status Quo in Western Sahara

Friday, 23 April, 2021 - 08:30
MINURSO peacekeepers in the Western Sahara. (AFP file photo)

The UN Security Council concluded its semi-annual closed consultations on Western Sahara, without issuing a statement.

Diplomatic sources in New York said Wednesday’s meeting established the status quo, stating that members of the Council listened to the briefing of the chief of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), Colin Stewart.

The meeting comes amid tensions due to the Polisario’s breaching of the ceasefire agreement it had signed with Morocco under UN auspices in 1991, and its impediment to the freedom of movement of the MINURSO.

In November 2020, the Polisario Front sparked the tensions when it announced its withdrawal from the ceasefire agreement.

Wednesday’s meeting called upon the Polisario to respect the agreement and avoid any provocations.

The Council was also briefed by an official in the UN Department of Political Affairs on the political process, which was hindered by Algeria and Polisario’s opposition to the appointment of a special envoy.

The Council members stressed the primacy of the UN process as the sole framework for finding a political, realistic and lasting solution to the Sahara conflict.

They asserted the need to assign a new envoy as soon as possible, after Algeria and Polisario rejected the nominations of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The proposals were Romanian former Prime Minister Petre Roman and former Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado.

The members renewed their support for the Moroccan initiative for self-determination for the people of Western Sahara, as a serious and credible basis that would end the regional conflict, as stipulated in Security Council resolutions since 2007.

They commended Morocco's cooperation with the peacekeeping mission, especially the campaign to vaccinate its members against COVID-19.

The meeting also addressed Polisario’s blockade of the Gueguerat crossing, which suspended commercial and civil traffic between Morocco and Mauritania, directly impacting the economy in several African countries.

They lauded the peaceful movement of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, which enabled the full restoration of traffic.

French media cited diplomatic sources in New York as saying that Washington submitted a proposal calling on the parties to adopt a constructive attitude on the ground with the UN peacekeeping mission and “avoid escalation”.

The initiative was rejected by India, China, Kenya, Tunisia and Niger on the grounds that it “could be misinterpreted and become counterproductive.”

The proposal included three main concerns: fortifying the ceasefire, speeding up the process of appointing a new UN envoy and re-launching a political process as soon as possible.

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