Sunday, March 13, 2016

Ban Ki-moon Rejects Morocco Criticism after Sahrawi Refugees Visit
10/03 - 08:16

The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday rejected criticism of Morocco after his visit to the region to restart talks between Rabat and the Polisario Front over Western Sahara, claiming that his goal remained a priority.

Mr. Ban visited Mauritania and a Sahrawi refugees camp in Algeria last week in the hope of shifting positions on the conflict that has lasted four decades. At the end of the visit, the Moroccan government stated on Tuesday that the Secretary General made “verbal excesses and unjustified complacency.”

The spokesman for the Secretary General, Farhan Haq reacted to the remarks saying that: “the Secretary General considers himself and the United Nations as neutral partners on the issue.”

“Mr. Ban did everything he could to resolve the situation in Western Sahara which has lasted for some time. The Secretary General wanted to make sure that in the last year of his term, this problem will be included in the international agenda,” said Mr Haq.

After his visit to the Sahrawi refugees in western Algeria, Ban Ki-moon was “deeply saddened by this humanitarian tragedy.” The spokesman said adding that the Secretary General has asked his envoy to the Western Sahara to resume tours to try to restart talks between Rabat and the Polisario Front.

Ban has said that he himself would pay a visit later this year – which is his last as Secretary General – to the Moroccan capital and Laayoune, the main town in Western Sahara which is also the location of the headquarters of the UN Mission (MINURSO).

Western Sahara is a former Spanish colony controlled by Morocco. However, Morocco wants Western Sahara, which is rich in phosphates and possibly offshore oil and gas, to be an autonomous part of Morocco and disagrees with Polisario over who should take part in the referendum.

The UN Security Council must consider the renewal of MINURSO’s mandate next month, which is located on the site since 1991 mainly to ensure compliance with the cease-fire between Morocco and Polisario.

Morocco condemns Ban Ki-moon’s comments on Western Sahara

 09/03 - 08:41

Efforts by the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon to resolve the conflict in Western Sahara have been dealt a blow by Morocco.

The Moroccan government has expressed its reservations over comments made by the UN Chief that “no real progress” has been made by Morocco and the Polisario independence movement to end the conflict.

A statement from the government of the north African country described Ban’s comments as containing “verbal excesses and unjustified complacency.”

Ban Ki-moon visited a Sahrawi camp run by the UN in Algeria at the weekend and has asked his special envoy to Western Sahara to relaunch talks between Rabat and the separatist Polisario Front. This follows his comments that the two parties have made no real progress in negotiations aimed at bringing about an “acceptable solution to all.”

The UN has expressed its preparedness to organise a referendum if the two sides fail to reach a consensus.

The referendum initiative has been supported by Algeria but Morocco is against moves to grant the former Spanish colony independence.

The UN has been trying to oversee an independence referendum for Western Sahara since 1992 after a ceasefire was reached to end a war that broke out when Morocco sent its forces to the former Spanish territory in 1975.

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