Rabat - United Nations envoy to Western Sahara is set to visit North Africa in order to rekindle the stalled negotiations on the Western Sahara, according to Moroccan media.
Rabat – United Nations envoy to Western Sahara is set to visit North Africa in order to rekindle the stalled negotiations on the Western Sahara, according to Moroccan media.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest plan to speed up the resolution of the Western Sahara dispute will bring his Personal Envoy Christopher Ross to North Africa to defuse tensions caused by the Polisario Front’s deployment of armed militiamen to stop the construction of road in Guerguerat, according to a report by Al-Massae.
According to the Security Council, the 32 armed members of the separatist Front that apprehended Moroccan road builders violated Military Agreement Number 1 of the 1991 ceasefire agreement by deploying armed combatants and fortifications – in this case, tents – in the buffer zone past the berm.
In late August, Venezuela – one of the Front’s major allies in the United Nations – requested a briefing on the road’s construction, accusing Morocco of illegally traversing the berm north of the Mauritanian border.
Ross’ trip to the region – still without set dates – will be Ki-moon’s last chance to revive the negotiation process for the resolution of the Western Sahara dispute before his term ends next year. Talks have been stalled since 2013, according to the U.N.’s record.
Morocco had indicated a willingness to engage in “shuttle diplomacy” in December 2015, however, the UNSG’s diplomatic blunder in March– in which he used the word “occupation” to describe the kingdom’s presence in the Western Sahara – jeopardized the future of the MINURSO peacekeeping mission and prevented the process from progressing further.
After Ross visits the issues’ key players, Al-Massae said the American diplomat would write periodic reports on the issue to the Friends of the Sahara group in the Security Council – the United States, France. Britain, China and Russia.
The newspaper said “no less than 18 meetings would take place between the Front and Morocco in the U.N. headquarters in New York.” The neighboring countries of Algeria and Mauritania will participate in the negotiation process as well.
Ross would also lead negotiations in two meetings to be held in the suburbs of New York in the coming weeks, which will bring high-level officials face-to-face.
With the election of a former Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Guterres, as new UN Secretary General on Wednesday, analysts says it is not sure whether Christopher Ross will keep his position as UN personal envoy to Western Sahara.