UN Security Council renewed mandate of UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for twelve months, as position of UN special envoy remained unfilled more than four months after former envoy Horst Köhler resigned. Initially UN Security Council members considered approving technical extension of MINURSO’s mandate for a few months, but France and U.S. 26 Oct presented resolution to extend it by one year, which Council passed 30 Oct. Morocco reportedly imposed series of preconditions for appointment, while Polisario Front independence movement allegedly threatened to suspend its participation in any diplomatic initiative until UN names new envoy.
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