UN chief slams Morocco in latest report on Western Sahara

New York (UN), April 20, 2016 (SPS0 - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has severely criticized Morocco for its practices and statements against him, in his latest report on Western Sahara sent Monday to the Security Council, covering the situation on the ground and the progress made in the negotiation process to resolve the conflict.

In his report, Ban Ki-moon said he went to the region in March (3-7), "to personally contribute to the negotiation process, to pay tribute to the UN peacekeeping mission MINURSO (UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara) and its personnel, to enquire about the humanitarian situation on the ground and discuss other matters of concern."

Ban expressed disappointment about Moroccan government's practices regarding Western Sahara issue, including the hostility shown to "some of his statements and actions during the trip."

The UN chief voiced regrets that Morocco failed to ask for details through the diplomatic way, preferring to make public statements and stage mass protests in Rabat and El Aaiun.

Ban said that in a statement on 4 November 2015, he stressed that the final status of Western Sahara was the subject of a negotiation process under his auspices, in line with Security Council's relevant resolutions.

He added that he regretted, in the statement, that there were no real negotiations held without pre-conditions and in good faith to reach a mutually acceptable political solution, leading to Saharawi people's self-determination.

The secretary general of the United Nations, however, underlined that on November 17, the Saharawi president, Mohamed Abdelaziz, assured him that "he welcomes his call for real negotiations," reiterating Polisario Front's support to the efforts of his personal envoy for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, and warning that "we are in crisis" and that "the conflict cannot be allowed to continue forever".

The UN Chief called the Security Council to re-establish MINURSO mandate to prevent creating a precedent for the other UN peacekeeping missions in the world.

Ban Ki-moon, who recommended extending the mandate of MINURSO until 30 April 2017, said there was a risk of truce breach and resumption of hostilities if the mission is forced to leave the occupied Western Sahara territories.

Western Sahara is registered as a non-autonomous territory since 1966, which makes it eligible to the implementation of UN general Assembly Resolution 1514 on granting of independence to colonial countries and people.

Western Sahara is Africa's last colony, occupied since 1975 by Morocco, which is supported by France. (SPS)