Rabat - United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, said on Monday he was angry and disappointed at Morocco for the massive March that was organized on Sunday in Rabat to protest against the statements he made about the Western Sahara during his recent trip to the region in early March.
Rabat – United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, said on Monday he was angry and disappointed at Morocco for the massive March that was organized on Sunday in Rabat to protest against the statements he made about the Western Sahara during his recent trip to the region in early March.
During a meeting with Morocco’s foreign minister, Salaheddine Mezouar at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Monday, the UN chief, “conveyed his astonishment at the recent statement of the government of Morocco and expressed his deep disappointment and anger regarding the demonstration that was mobilized on Sunday, which targeted him in person,” Ban’s press office said in statement on Monday.
Ban underscored to the UN foreign minister that “such attacks are disrespectful to him and to the United Nations” and requested a “clarification regarding the reported presence of several members of the Moroccan Government among the demonstrators.”
On Sunday Moroccan TV channels reported that three million Moroccans participated in a massive march to express their rejection of Ban Ki-moon’s use of the term “occupation” while referring to Morocco’s presence in the territory.
The march was held few days after the Moroccan government issues an unusually strong communique in which it accused the UN chief of bias in favor of the Polisario.
The UN chief said the use of the term “occupation” was misunderstood and argued that the choice of that term reflected his “personal reaction to the deplorable humanitarian conditions in which the Sahrawi refugees have lived in for far too long.”
The eight Secretary General of the UN went on to add that his intentions were “misrepresented” and that he adheres to the Security Council’s mandate.
“In choosing to misrepresent the purpose and progression of the Secretary-General’s trip to the region, the demonstrators, and their sponsors, deliberately chose to ignore that at every stop on his trip he underlined his personal commitment to encouraging genuine negotiations between the parties to achieve “a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara,” the statement added.
The statement issued by the Moroccan government last Tuesday accused the UN chief of “violating the mandate of the Security Council,” as well as UN terminology regarding the territorial dispute putting Morocco against Algeria and the Polisario.
Analysts say the UN chief must adhere to his mandate and refrain from expressing his personal opinions about any issues the UN is involved in.
“When he used the term ‘occupation,’ the UN chief has clearly expressed his support for the position of one of the parties involved in the conflict, which is a flagrant violation of his mandate,” Brahim Fassi Fihri, president of the Moroccan think tank Amadeus, told Morocco World News in a statement.
Ban Ki-moon is the first UN chief to use the term “occupation” while referring to Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara.
None of the UN resolutions adopted every year in its different organ since 1980 has used the term “occupation.”
The UN political process over the Western Sahara has been deadlocked for the past seven years. Since Ban Ki-moon appointed Christopher Ross as his personal envoy in January 2009, no direct talks have been held between Morocco and the Polisario in order to reach a long-lasting and mutually acceptable political solution to the conflict, in line with Security Council Resolution 1754 of April 2007.
Since 2007, the Security Council has been calling on the parties to the conflict to develop innovative ideas to reach a political settlement. In April 2007, Morocco presented the autonomy proposal as way to reach an agreed and mutually acceptable political solution. The same week, the Polisario presented a counter-proposal that favors a solution by means of a referendum with independence as an option. Morocco has repeatedly said that the autonomy is all it can offer to put an end to the conflict.
In all the resolutions adopted since 2007, the Security Council took note of the Moroccan autonomy proposal while “welcoming serious and credible Moroccan efforts to move the process forward towards resolution.” At the same time, the Council has only “taken note” of the counter-proposal presented by the Polisario.