Rabat - King Mohammed VI is scheduled to make an official visit to Russia on March 15. As Morocco World News reported last month, the Moroccan monarch will visit Moscow at the invitation of President Vladimir Putin.
Rabat – King Mohammed VI is scheduled to make an official visit to Russia on March 15. As Morocco World News reported last month, the Moroccan monarch will visit Moscow at the invitation of President Vladimir Putin.
While the stated purpose of the visit is to strengthen economic and political ties between the two countries, analysts say that the timing of the visit signals that King Mohammed VI will seek to secure Moscow’s support for Morocco’s position on the Western Sahara conflict and its autonomy plan presented to the Security Council in 2007.
Russia is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council and is a veto-wielding country. In addition, it is member of the Group of Friends of the Western Sahara. The group, which also includes the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Spain, is in charge of overseeing and discussing the draft resolution that the Security Council adopts in April of every year to renew the mandate of the United Nations Mission in the Western Sahara, known by its French acronym MINURSO.
MINURSO’s mandate is up for renewal on April 30, 2016. Its renewal is based on the annual report that United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, submits to the Security Council in early April.
King Mohammed VI’s visit comes against the backdrop of tensions between Morocco and the UN Secretary General, following Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Algiers and the Tindouf camps on March 5-7. During the visit, the UN chief referred to Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara as “occupation,” a description that has never been used by a sitting UN Secretary General, nor in any UN official document.
In addition, Ban Ki-moon brought up the question of a referendum and said that MINURSO was ready to conduct one if the parties agreed to proceed with it. The statement was perceived by Rabat to be a deviation from Ban Ki-moon’s mandate and the framework of negotiations set out by the Security Council since 2007.
On Tuesday, March 8, the Moroccan government issued a communiqué in which it denounced the statement made by Ban Ki-moon.
“Morocco has seen, both in terms of the conduct of the visit and the content of the statements, that the Secretary General has abandoned his neutrality, objectivity and impartiality.”