The Moroccan diplomat recalled the absence of Polisario’s referendum claims for Western Sahara in the Security Council resolutions, saying that the instrument of the claim is “well dead and buried for more than two decades.”
Rabat – The permanent representative of Morocco at the UN, Omar Hilale, said Tuesday that Polisario’s demand for a referendum in Western Sahara “is by no means a principle of international law.”
Speaking during the 75th session of the UN General Assembly’s Special Political and Decolonization (Fourth) Committee, Hilale said that the instrument of the referendum has been “well dead and buried for more than two decades.”
“There is no way you can raise the dead,” Hilale said of the referendum.
“It is not only the position of Morocco, but it is that of the Secretary-General of the UN, of the Security Council, and the whole international community,” he stressed.
The statements followed the UN Security Council’s adoption of Resolution 2548, renewing the mandate of the peacekeeping operation in Western Sahara, MINURSO, for one year.
The text of the resolution reiterated the importance of appointing a new personal envoy of the UN secretary-general for Western Sahara at the “earliest opportunity.”
Former envoy Horst Kohler resigned last year in May due to “health issues.” The UN secretary-general has yet to appoint a replacement who will be able to adequately carry on Kohler’s momentum.
Morocco’s Autonomy Plan
Morocco’s government expressed satisfaction with the Security Council resolution, which once again did not mention a referendum as one of the solutions on the table to solve the Western Sahara conflict.
“None of the 34 Security Council resolutions since 2001 mention or make the slightest reference to the referendum. The Council having definitely and irreversibly opted for a political, realistic, pragmatic, and compromise solution as the only solution to the dispute over the Moroccan Sahara,” Hilale underlined.
The diplomat also reiterated Morocco’s support for the UN-led political process to end the conflict, recalling that his country continues to believe that the Autonomy Initiative is the only solution to the dispute.
He said all UN resolutions since 2007 established the basis for a political solution to the regional dispute through several principles, including the need to find a realistic and pragmatic solution.
Seventeen resolutions also reiterated the preeminence of the Autonomy Initiative as a “serious and credible solution to this regional dispute,” he added.
“This initiative complies with international law, takes full account of the specificity of the Moroccan Sahara region, and grants the populations of this region very board prerogatives in all areas.”
Hilale also recalled the Security Council’s emphasis on the roundtable process with the involvement of all parties to the conflict, including Algeria.
The former UN envoy, Kohler, was key to the political process for having managed to convene the four parties to the conflict for roundtable talks in December 2018 and March 2019.
The participants agreed to convene in a third round table, which did not happen with the resignation of Kohler.
The Security Council through its new resolution, paid tribute to Kohler, commending his efforts in holding the roundtable process, “which created new momentum in the political process.”
Due to Polisario’s recent provocations in the buffer zone between Morocco and Mauritania, the Moroccan government said the repeated violations in restricted areas disqualify the separatist group’s legitimacy and bar them from talks.
Hilale spoke on Tuesday of Polisario’s recent violations in Guerguerat, near the Moroccan-Mauritanian border.
Recently, Polisario members and supporters, including women and children, defied the Security Council’s resolutions and blocked traffic in the buffer zone near Guerguerat. The group also taunted Moroccan soldiers who were guarding the region.
Morocco condemned the violations, with the UN calling on Polisario to refrain from violations that would disrupt the status quo of the region.
The UN also warned Polisario that civil and commercial traffic should continue without disturbance.