The conflict in Western Sahara, opposing Morocco to the Polisario Front, was at the center on Wednesday October 13 of a semi-annual meeting behind closed doors of the UN Security Council, against the backdrop of an ambiguous American position and a breakdown in relations between Rabat. and Algiers which supports the Sahrawi separatists.
The situation in Western Sahara has “Strongly degraded” since the breaking almost a year ago of the ceasefire observed since 1991, recently noted in a report the Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres. “The security clashes continue” and “The situation on the ground is worse than before”, indicates a diplomat on condition of anonymity.
The United States, in charge of the UN file, has not planned a statement to the Council, diplomats told AFP. In April, during the last session, Washington tried to get approval for a text asking “To avoid an escalation”. But this project had been refused by China, India and African countries, fearing that it would be misinterpreted.
“Kenya has strong opinions and feelings about Western Sahara” and “We think it’s a question of independence”, told some media before the start of the meeting his ambassador to the UN, Martin Kimani, one of the few diplomats to have agreed to speak on this sensitive issue.
Nairobi, like Vietnam and Mexico, other currently non-permanent members of the Security Council, maintains diplomatic relations with the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which is not recognized by a majority of the international community.
A new UN envoy
“The United States is an important player” on this file and “We expect everyone to work constructively now to achieve this”, said her Irish counterpart, Geraldine Byrne Nason, when asked if she was waiting for an American clarification.
Joe Biden has still not commented on the unilateral recognition – made shortly before his departure – of Donald Trump of Moroccan sovereignty over the whole of Western Sahara.
The US State Department recently refused to answer on this subject, limiting itself to welcoming the appointment, after more than two years without an incumbent, of a new UN envoy for this conflict, the Italian Staffan de Mistura, 74 years old, who will take office on 1er November.
The latter succeeds former German President Horst Köhler, who resigned in May 2019 after relaunching discussions in Switzerland between Morocco and the Polisario Front, in the presence of Algeria and Mauritania. In August, however, Algiers broke off diplomatic relations with Rabat, which does not augur an imminent resumption of multilateral discussions on the Sahara.
In early October, Algiers demanded the withdrawal of Moroccan forces from a buffer zone in the region to facilitate a resumption of a settlement. The Polisario Front calls for a self-determination referendum planned by the UN, while Morocco, which controls more than two-thirds of the former Spanish colony, only proposes a plan of autonomy under its sovereignty.
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