NEW YORK, APRIL 28 – The United Nations today welcomed the withdrawal of all Polisario Front elements from the Guerguerat area, and the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution backing the secretary-general’s new effort to resolve the 40-year conflict over the Western Sahara.
The resolution was adopted shortly after Secretary-General Antonio Guterres confirmed that Polisario Front fighters had withdrawn from the town of Guerguerat in the buffer zone on the Morocco-Mauritanian border, which had become the latest flashpoint in the conflict. At the end of a long day that saw the North Korean nuclear program crisis on top of the agenda of the Council, the Italian Permanent Representative Sebastiano Cardi cast the vote in favor of the resolution: “The improvement of the situation is a demonstration of results that can be achieved with diplomacy”.
According to a statement issued by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, together with the earlier withdrawal of Moroccan elements from the area, the Polisario action should improve the prospects of creating an environment that will facilitate early implementation of Mr. Guterres’s determination to relaunch the negotiating process.
The process would be relaunched with a new dynamic and a new spirit that reflects the Security Council’s guidance and resolutions, with the aim of reaching a “mutually acceptable political solution which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.”
“We continue to call on the parties to adhere to their obligations under the ceasefire agreement and to respect both its letter and spirit, and to cooperate fully with MINURSO,” said the Spokesman, adding that the need to ensure that tensions do not erupt anew in the Guerguerat area remains vital.
To this end, MINURSO intends to maintain the position it has held in the Buffer Strip since August 2016 and further discuss the Mission’s future monitoring of the area and the full range of issues related to the Buffer Strip with the parties, the statement added.
The statement comes as the UN Security Council today unanimously extended MINURSO’s mandate until 30 April 20 18. Through a resolution, the Council reaffirmed the need for full respect of the military agreements reached with MINUSRSO with regard to the ceasefire and called on all the parties to adhere fully to those agreements.
Western Sahara is located on the north-west coast of Africa bordered by Morocco, Mauritania and Algeria. The colonial administration of Western Sahara by Spain ended in 1976. Fighting later broke out between Morocco and the Polisario Front. A ceasefire was signed in September 1991. MINURSO was deployed that year to monitor the ceasefire between the Government of Morocco and the Polisario Front and organizing, if the parties agree, a referendum on self-determination in Western Sahara.
A revised settlement plan was deployed by the United Nations after seven years of diplomatic consultations was rejected by one of the parties in 2004. In approving the current phase of direct negotiations in 2007, the UN Security Council called for “a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political settlement which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.” (@OnuItalia)