Restrictions imposed by the separatist Polisario Front on freedom of movement prevented the MINURSO mission from maintaining the supply chain of its division sites east of the berm, said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a semi-finalized report on the Western Sahara.
Obtained by MoroccoLatestNews, the report notes, for example, that “on March 22 of this year, 20 armed members of the Polisario Front stopped a mission convoy near the Amehrez area. This prevented the convoy from delivering its cargo.”
As the clock turns towards the UN Security Council’s scheduled sessions on the Western Sahara, and as the UN Special Envoy prepares to present his annual report on the issue, Guterres’ provisional report points to deteriorating ties between Morocco and Algeria as a major hindrance to the file’s advancement.
However, in his report, the UN SG also pointed to Morocco’s successive successes in gathering the international community behind its Autonomy Proposal, first tabled in 2007, naming the latest Israeli recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over its southern territories.
Staffan de Mistura, Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, informed all parties concerned of his commitment to the recent Security Council Resolution No. 2654, which stresses the importance of all parties expanding their positions in order to move forward in reaching a political solution to this conflict, as called for by the recent UN Security Council resolution.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations noted that the context in which the Sahara issue passes makes negotiating a political solution to this file more urgent than ever before, stressing that “finding a just and lasting political solution to this conflict is possible provided that all parties engage in good faith and the presence of a strong political will.” From the parties, in addition to the support of the international community in order to reach a settlement of this file,” he said, referring to the Algerian party.
The UN official called on all parties concerned to deal with the political process with an open mind, and to stop setting preconditions for launching the negotiation process, calling at the same time on the Polisario Front to “remove the restrictions it imposes on the freedom of movement of the MINURSO mission and to resume regular contacts with the mission’s leadership, both civilian and military.”
Guterres said that “Envoy de Mistura met with civil society activists and women’s groups, some of which expressed great support for the autonomy proposal under Moroccan sovereignty.”
The Secretary-General of the United Nations stated that “most of the interlocutors whom de Mistura met in the southern provinces expressed their desire to reunite with their Moroccan Sahrawi relatives in the Tindouf camps,” stationed on Algerian soil and managed by the Front.
The SG draft report added, “The UN envoy met in Rabat with Moroccan FM Nasser Bourita, who stressed the importance of the autonomy plan as the only solution to the conflict.
Guterres highlighted that expansion of this proposal will not come until a later stage.
During his question to the Moroccan Foreign Minister about some “claims” made by separatist civil society groups in the southern provinces about the human rights situation, Bourita replied that “Morocco is always open to dialogue with the United Nations mechanisms concerned with human rights, in the north and south of the Kingdom.”
As an embodiment of its central role in the Sahara conflict, Guterres referred to “de Mistura’s visit to Algeria on September 13, during which informal consultations in March 2023 were mentioned, during which the parties to the conflict (Morocco/Algeria/Polisario/Mauritania) were called for dialogue.”
The report stated that “De Mistura’s meeting with the leader of the Polisario organization witnessed nothing new, as Ibrahim Ghali stressed the necessity of implementing the secession thesis in the southern regions of the Kingdom.”
As for Mauritania, the same source revealed that “De Mistura met with the Mauritanian President, Mohamed Ould Sheikh Al-Ghazouani, and his Foreign Minister Mohamed Salem Ould Marzouk, where they reiterated their “positive neutrality” towards the conflict, expressing concern about the possible regional repercussions of the conflict.
Regarding de Mistura’s efforts regarding the Moroccan-Algerian conflict, Guterres’s draft report confirmed that “the UN envoy received reassurances from officials in Morocco and Algeria that neither of them is seeking any possible escalation; While he received deep concern from international capitals regarding what is happening between the two parties.”
The same document revealed that “de Mistura met, during the reporting period, with officials from major international capitals; Most notably the United Arab Emirates, the United States of America, Russia, France, Spain, Switzerland, and Germany.”
Guterres expressed his concern about the continued deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria, recommending in this regard “the extension of the mandate of the MINURSO mission for an additional year until October 31, 2024.