The Secretary-General’s report on Western Sahara is an annual report, in which he lists his observations on the situation in the region for the Security Council.
Rabat – A draft report on Western Sahara from the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has informed the Security Council that Morocco has provided images to the UN peacekeeping mission, MINURSO, confirming Polisario’s violations in the region.
Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) published extracts from the copy, stipulating that Guterres spoke of violations on military agreements and UN resolutions, including the most recent resolutions—2414 and 2440.
The resolutions, adopted in April and October 2018, firmly called on the Polisario Front to leave the Guerguerat buffer zone immediately and to refrain from building or transferring any of its structures into the region east of Morocco’s defense wall.
The Secretary-General’s draft report mentioned images taken by Morocco’s high resolution satellite, which Morocco gave to the UN to enable MINURSO to identify and confirm new violations by Polisario, including the construction of several buildings east of Morocco’s defence wall.
The copy of the report warned against major risks of tensions in the region due to Polisario’s military exercises in restricted zones.
In January, pro-Polisario news outlets, including the official news agency of the separatist group, reported that its members conducted a “military maneuver in the fourth military region in Mehriz,” a region in Western Sahara claimed as a “liberated zone” by Polisario.
The Sahara Press Service said that the region also witnessed the “destruction of the eighth and last stockpile of antipersonnel mines.”
The move angered the Moroccan government, which held press conferences to warn of possible tension due to Polisario’s maneuvers.
The Moroccan government also sent a letter to Guterres to denounce the maneuvers and the construction of buildings as serious violations of the ceasefire and military agreements.
In the draft report, Guterres also informed the Security Council that Polisario “continues to impede the freedom of movement of MINURSO military observers, whose patrols East of the defense system are already limited by the prevailing insecurity,” according to MAP.
Polisario defies request to meet MINURSO at Rabouni
Guterres also informed the Security Council that he called on Polisario members to meet MINURSO officials in Rabouni, Algeria and not east of the defense wall in Western Sahara.
In his 2018 report, Guterres said that he asked Polisario that meetings between the separatist group and the UN representative take place as usual in Rabouni near Tindouf, in Algeria.
Guterres, however, acknowledged that Polisario “insists” on meeting UN Special Representative for Western Sahara Colin Stewart east of the defense wall that Morocco built in Western Sahara.
But the UN chief warned that the situation is a “significant obstacle to the relationship between MINURSO and Frente Polisario, which is currently limited to telephone and written contracts between my Special Representative and the Frente Polisario Coordinator.”
In his recent report, Guterres recognized that the meetings between Polisario and MINURSO has not “resumed in Rabouni, Algeria, in accordance with the practice established since the creation of MINURSO” in 1991.
The Secretary-General expressed regrets that his request was not respected.
Second roundtable part of report
The draft also recalled the efforts of the UN Secretary-General’s personal envoy, Horst Kohler, who convened the parties involved in the conflict—Morocco, Algeria, Polisario, and Mauritania—around the same table in two roundtable discussions on Western Sahara.
The first roundtable took place in December 2018 and the second in March, serving as initial steps to prepare for the launch of negotiations to find an agreed upon and mutually acceptable political solution to the conflict.
The UN expressed satisfaction with both roundtables, with Kohler acknowledging that there will be no quick result to the conflict because the parties need to build trust.
In his draft report, the UN chief commented on the “positive spirit and constructive and respectful atmosphere” at the two roundtables.
Guterres welcomed and emphasized the importance of the discussions and appreciated the agreement of all delegations to continue the process and to “reconvene in the same format, calling all parties to continue to seek compromise.”
Quoting the report, MAP said that Algeria is “indeed called upon to engage fully and throughout the process, in accordance with its political, historical, and legal responsibility in the conflict and the resolutions of the Security Council, including resolution 2440” adopted in October 2018.
The resolution called on all parties, including Algeria, which describes itself as an observer to the conflict, to constructively work along with all other parties with Kohler to find a mutually acceptable political solution.
The draft report also called for a realistic, pragmatic, and durable political solution based on compromise as “the only way towards” a solution.
Morocco’s Autonomy Plan, which Morocco has said is the only solution for the dispute, has long been described as a credible and serious solution to end the conflict.
The report also asserted that a political solution to the regional conflict would benefit the entire region.