Rabat – The Algerian press agency APS has claimed that Horst Köhler, the United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy to Western Sahara, had held an “official meeting” Thursday with the Polisario Front’s UN representatives.
However, it appears that calling the encounter a “meeting” was a stretch, considering its participants and the lack of substantial discussion that occurred.
The agency said that a Polisario delegation was led by the Mhamed Khedad, the organization’s coordinator with the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). The so-called “meeting,” the state-run Algerian press agency said, took place in the presence of Ahmed Boukhari, Polisario’s representative to the UN.
The discussion, said the agency, provided a chance “to exchange points of view and information” about the UN process, “ahead of achieving a just and lasting solution that guarantees the unalienable right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination.”
“On this occasion, the Polisario Front reiterated that is ready to cooperate with the UN Secretary General’s Envoy to solve the Sahrawi question,” said the agency.
The claim that this was an “official meeting” is belied by various facts, many revealed by APS itself.
First, the “meeting” was not reported on the UN’s website, suggesting that no meaningful exchange took place.
Further, as APS affirmed, the Polisario delegation was headed by the organization’s coordinator with MINURSO, rather than the permanent representative. APS did not explain, however, how the MINURSO coordinator had the authority to lead an “official meeting” between a Polisario delegation and the UN Envoy.
Another striking feature is that the news was not reported even by Polisario-run media. While the official press agency of Algeria, the main backer of Polisario, presented the encounter as a previously coordinated meeting, Polisario itself apparently did not judge the incident newsworthy.
The Algerian agency’s dispatch did not mention anything the Western Sahara envoy said to his interlocutors, which suggests that the encounter was brief. The piece merely noted that Kohler had substituted Christopher Ross as the Secretary General’s Envoy.
The Moroccan online media outlet le360 reported the Kohler was approached by the Polisario members inside the UN’s meeting room.