Rabat - After Morocco expelled the civilian wing of MINURSO from the Saharan city of Laayoune, the United Nations said on Monday that the peacekeeping mission has received notice from authorities to shut down its military liaison office as well.
Rabat – After Morocco expelled the civilian wing of MINURSO from the Saharan city of Laayoune, the United Nations said on Monday that the peacekeeping mission has received notice from authorities to shut down its military liaison office as well.
U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq disclosed to the Associated Press that MINURSO received a new request from the Moroccan government to shut down its military liaison office in Dakhla in the near future.
MINURSO was established in 1991 in order to maintain peace agreements between the separatist group called the Polisario Front and Morocco.
Last week, Morocco ordered 84 international staff members to leave the country in protest to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s use of the word “occupation” while referring to the mineral-rich Sahara during his visit to camps in Tindouf, Algeria that house Sahrawi refugees.
Haq also stated that Morocco was violating the U.N. charter by issuing the eviction orders and that country’s actions “cannot be tolerated.”
He accused Morocco of acting arbitrarily, needlessly escalating tensions, and acting against the U.N. Charter and its agreement on deploying the U.N. mission. He expressed hope “that Morocco gets the message that this kind of behavior cannot be tolerated.”
Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, foreign minister for the Tindouf-based Polisario Front, said in a statement released on Sunday that Morocco’s actions could “stir up tensions and push the Sahrawi people to take up arms again.”
After two meetings on issue, the Security Council has yet to publish a statement supporting Ban Ki-moon’s statements, which have been met with protests in Morocco and the Moroccan diaspora in multiple international cities.
Protestors and Moroccan officials have said that Ki-moon’s reference to the Sahara as “occupied” shows a “lack of neutrality” that goes against the secretary-general’s mandate.
Haq told the AP that the U.N. has been engaging in talks with Morocco and other countries in order “to make sure tensions can be de-escalated.”