Morocco 1 April said Polisario Front independence movement had entered UN-monitored buffer zones in Western Sahara from Algeria, threatened to take control of area. Vote at UN Security Council on one-year renewal of UN mission MINURSO scheduled for 25 April postponed due to disagreements over content of resolution. Security Council 27 April passed amended resolution, pushed by U.S., renewing MINURSO’s mandate for only six months, urging conflict parties to enter into direct talks as soon as possible and calling for end of status quo. China, Russia and Ethiopia abstained.
The Western Sahara conflict is both one of the world’s oldest and one of its most neglected.
The combination of Morocco’s recent proposal of a “Sahara autonomous region”, the Polisario Front’s counter-proposal of independence with guarantees for Moroccan interests and the UN Security Council’s 30 April resolution calling for direct negotiations between the parties – due to begin on 18 June – has been hailed as a promising breakthrough in the protracted Western Sahara dispute.
Refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria, have long been run by the Polisario movement, which seeks an independent state in Western Sahara, also claimed by Morocco. But a new generation of Sahrawi refugees is growing fractious as aid dwindles and diplomatic efforts fail to deliver a settlement.
Originally published in Al Hayat
Originally published in The Wall Street Journal Europe