UN renews peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara and calls for talks

The United Nations Security Council resolution expresses concern about the breaking of the ceasefire between Morocco and the Polisario independence front.

The United Nations Security Council has extended the UN peacekeeping mission in disputed Western Sahara by one year, expressing concern over the breakdown of the 1991 ceasefire between Morocco and the pro-independence Polisario Front and calling for a reactivation of the UN-led negotiations.

Friday’s vote was 13-0 with Russia and Tunisia abstaining.

The resolution was spearheaded by the United States, which under former President Donald Trump broke with the world to recognize Morocco’s claim to the territory, as it persuaded the kingdom to normalize relations with Israel.

Weeks after the appointment of a new UN envoy for Western Sahara, veteran diplomat Staffan de Mistura, the resolution called for “the parties” to resume negotiations “without preconditions and in good faith” in search of a “just policy. durable and mutually acceptable. ” solution”.

The resolution calls for an objective of “self-determination of the people of Western Sahara”, a phrase that, according to diplomats, was added by the United States at the behest of Russia, which could have vetoed the text.

The resolution also “reaffirms the need for full respect” for a ceasefire that collapsed last year.

Morocco has proposed broad autonomy for Western Sahara. But the Polisario Front insists that the local population, which it estimates between 350,000 and 500,000, has the right to a referendum.

Algeria backs the Polisario Front in pursuit of independence and in August broke relations with Morocco, which controlled almost 80 percent of the arid and sparsely populated territory controlled by Spain until 1975.

The round table talks were held for the last time in early 2019 that brought together the Polisario Front and Morocco.

Algeria has opposed the resumption of the talks, and the Polisario sees itself as a liberation movement that should negotiate directly with Rabat.

‘Limit escalation’

France’s envoy to the UN, Nicolas de Riviere, said that the UN peacekeeping effort, known as the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), remains vital under the conditions of uncertain security.

“More than ever since the ceasefire was broken, this operation plays an essential role in limiting the risks of escalation and bringing stability to the region,” he said.

The US mission to the UN praised the renewal of the mandate and said its priority was “to restart a credible political process that leads to a lasting, dignified and internationally supported solution.”

Kenya, the current president of the Security Council, expressed hope that the UN mission could eventually organize a referendum, saying it was the right of all nations that were previously colonized.

“We must be honest and admit that this goal is being obscured and thwarted,” the Kenyan mission said in a statement.

MINURSO was established by the Security Council in 1991 with the objective of establishing a referendum between independence and accession to Morocco.


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