Rabat – Horst Köhler, the new personal envoy of the United Nations Secretary General for Western Sahara, is preparing his first tour in the region next week, announced Omar Hilale, Morocco’s ambassador to the UN.
During the Fourth Commission of the UN General Assembly in New York this October 10, Hilale revealed that Kohler will be heading to Western Sahara for the regional tour to relaunch negotiations on the matter of the Western Sahara.
After taking office on September 8, Köhler held a series of meetings and consultations with all the involved parties for eight days. The former German president told the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, of his intention to visit the region to “re-launch the political process in a new spirit and a new dynamic,” reported the spokesman of the SG of the UN, Stéphane Dujarric, in a statement.
“This intention was expressed by the new UN envoy for Western Sahara during meetings last weekend in New York with Antonio Guterres, senior UN officials, representatives of parties and neighbors, member states and the Commissioner of the African Union for Peace and Security,” added Dujarric.
“The UN SG welcomed the intention of his personal envoy to visit the region to re-launch the political process in a new spirit, in accordance with Security Council resolution 2351 (2017),” added Dujarric.
The date of the visit was not revealed until Hilale disclosed it at the General Assembly meeting.
The new mediator is expected to meet with all relevant parties to discuss how to restart the process of negotiations in order to find “a definitive, fair and mutually acceptable political solution” to the conflict in Western Sahara.
On August 16, Guterres named Köhler as his Personal Envoy, replacing Christopher Ross, who resigned in April 2017 after holding the position since January 2009. In 2012, Morocco declared Ross persona non-grata for his declaration on Morocco’s alleged abuses in the Western Sahara. The kingdom reproached his “unacceptable declarations and initiatives, which contravened the prerogatives of its mandate.”
At the time, Moroccan authorities suspected the American diplomat of being behind the efforts to empower the United Nations Mission in Western Sahara, known as MINURSO, with a human rights monitoring mechanism.
Despite the intermediation of former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to reassure the kingdom on the “neutrality, objectivity and impartiality” of UN officials, relations between Morocco and Ross did not improve. During the last years of his mandate, the American diplomat was unsuccessful in bringing together the various parties involved in the Sahara dispute.