Rabat - Morocco has agreed to grant 17 civilian staff members of the UN Mission in the Sahara (MINURSO) readmittance to their headquarters in Laayoune in the coming days. They had been expelled in March 2016.
Rabat – Morocco has agreed to grant 17 civilian staff members of the UN Mission in the Sahara (MINURSO) readmittance to their headquarters in Laayoune in the coming days. They had been expelled in March 2016.
The Kingdom has signed an agreement with the UN to allow the 17 UN members of staff to return to their posts. In March 2016, Morocco expelled 74 civilian staff members of MINURSO, following former UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon’s use of the word “occupation” when talking about the situation in the Moroccan Sahara. Many analysts at the time deemed it a dangerous diplomatic gaffe with no basis in law.
“The decision was taken last night after a meeting between the Permanent Representative of the Kingdom to the United Nations, Omar Hilale, and the new Chief of Peacekeeping Operations, Jean Pierre Lacroix,” reported Yabiladi’s source.
This “compromise” was reached only after absolute assurance from the UN of the neutrality and non-interference of its members, in accordance with the mandate initially established by the United Nations Security Council, an anonymous source told the Yabiladi news website. These guarantees seem to have finally resolved the year-long dispute between the Kingdom and MINURSO, which will now be restored to its full functionality.
A source from inside the UN department of peacekeeping operations confirmed the news to Morocco World News on Monday. The recommendation made by the Security Council in resolution 2285, adopted on April 30, 2016, was, therefore, fully respected by Morocco, enabling MINURSO to regain its full functionality in the region.
This is not the first time that Morocco has shown its good faith regarding the Sahara issue. After the inauguration of the new UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, Morocco showed its willingness to re-establish trust with the UN secretariat and facilitate Guterres’ mission by carefully considering his note of February 25. Guterres had expressed his concern over the tense situation in Guerguerat and called for the immediate withdrawal from the region.
Morocco has now taken another significant step conforming to UN Security Council recommendations.
Meanwhile, the Polisario is still refusing to withdraw its armed forces from Guerguerat, which is supposed to be a demilitarized zone under the ceasefire agreement signed on October 1991.