Guteress addressed a note to the Security Council on Wednesday, asking for a one-year extension for the UN mission in Western Sahara, also known as MINURSO.
The document obtained by AFP reads, “I recommend that the Council extend the mandate of MINURSO by one year, until October 31, 2019, in order to give my emissary the space and time necessary to create conditions that will allow the political process to move forward.”
The last time the Security Council met to decide on the MINURSO mandate was on April 27. The council extended the mission’s mandate until October 31, 2018.
Traditionally, the council has extended the mandate for one year.
The secretary-general’s note followed invitations from the UN secretary-general’s personal envoy, Horst Kohler, to all parties: Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, and Polisario.
Guterres confirmed the requests of his envoy as he also “urged the parties and neighbors to come to the negotiating table in good faith and without preconditions.”
AFP reported earlier that the talks would come in the form of a roundtable rather than negotiations.
Guterres’ request might pressure Algeria to join the round-table talks in December in Geneva, which aim to decide on a framework for future negotiations.
Algeria has been reluctant to shoulder its responsibility in the conflict, claiming that the issue should be solved between Morocco and Polisario.
If Algeria refuses to attend as a fully-participating party, some analysts believe Morocco is unlikely to send a senior representative.
On Friday, September 28, Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita met Guterres on the sidelines of the 73rd UN General Assembly in New York. The two officials discussed the Western Sahara conflict.
The Security Council will hold three meetings on Western Sahara this month, including one on October 29, to determine the future of MINURSO.