Rabat – Morocco’s Minister of Interior, Abdelouafi Laftit, met Colin Stewart, UN’s Special Representative and Head of MINURSO earlier today, January 12. Laftit reiterated Morocco’s warning over the Polisario’s repeated illegal maneuvers in the restricted buffer zone of Guerguerat.
Laftit also reasserted Morocco’s commitment to support the MINURSO in fulfilling its mandate, emphasizing that Polisario’s activities could undermine peace and security in the region and hinder the negotiation process to reach a consensual solution to end the four-decade-long conflict over the Western Sahara.
Stewart, recently appointed to the MINURSO role, acknowledged the warm welcome and desire to work together. He reiterated his commitment to continuing efforts to comply with military agreements and return to the status quo in Guerguerat Region, in accordance with the UN Secretary-General’s call on January 6, 2018, reported Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).
The meeting comes just days after a warning letter issued by Antonio Guterres, UN’s Secretary-General, urging the Polisario to ease tension and avoid further escalation in the region. Guterres ordered the separatist front to comply with international regulations and to “avoid any operation likely to change status quo of that area”.
The UN top official repeated his steady commitment to relaunch the political process of dialogue between Morocco and Polisario over the Western Sahara conflict.
Guterres’ new warning message came after his official statement issued on Saturday, January 6, when he expressed his deep concern over rising tensions near Guerguerat.
Guterres statement and his new letter followed a series of illegal maneuvers carried out by Polisario in the region. Members of the Polisario Front have been blocking trucks registered in Morocco from crossing the Moroccan-Mauritanian border.
Stewart arrived in Laayoun on December 28 to his office at the Headquarters of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara.
Today’s meeting was marked by the attendance of the Governor in charge of Coordination with the Minurso, Hamid Barez, and the UNSG special representative’s adviser Alexander Ivanko.