The UN said finding a replacement for Kohler is a “critical job.”
Rabat – The UN has acknowledged facing challenges to appoint a new envoy for Western Sahara after Horst Kohler’s resignation.
Kohler resigned in May 2019. The former envoy cited health reasons for his resignation.
During a press briefing on March 4, the spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, Stephane Dujarric, addressed why it is taking so long to find a suitable replacement for Kohler.
When asked whether the UN still has no appropriate candidates to fill the two-year vacancy as Western Sahara envoy, Dujarric said finding a good candidate to replace Kohler is not the “easiest job on the UN roster.”
He described the job as “critical,” saying that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has been “trying very hard to fill the position.”
“Not all the levers are in hands, but he is doing his bit,” the spokesperson concluded.
Kohler cited health reasons when handing in his resignation. Amid important developments in the conflict, however, a number of Sahara watchers have cast doubt about Kohler’s official reason for resigning.
Some observers suggest that the envoy’s departure was a sign that a political solution to end the dispute over Western Sahara is not on the horizon.
Nearly two years since the former German president left the position, the lack of progress and communication from the UN about his replacement has prompted concerns among observers and diplomats.
The UN has continuously vowed that the search for a replacement is ongoing, but many now doubt whether the much-hyped momentum achieved during Kohler’s tenuere can be salvaged or maintained.
Parties to the Western Sahara conflict, including Morocco, have warmly spoken of the diplomatic progress made under Kohler.
The former UN official played a major role in attempting to find a resolution to the conflict. Kohler was notably able to convene all the particles — Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, and the Polisario Front — to round-table discussions to explore a “mutually acceptable” and “compromise-based”political solution to the Sahara dispute.
At the UN level, no further developments have taken place since Kohler’s famed Geneva roundtables.