Western Sahara: Kim Bolduc’s lightning visit to Tindouf

abdelThe Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and Head of MINURSO, Kim Bolduc, was back in Tindouf on August 3, for a short, discreet visit to the Tindouf camps, in preparation for the first trip the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, is planning to undertake in the region.

Ban Ki-moon’s journey to North Africa is scheduled for late 2015 and aims to revive the settlement process of the Western Sahara conflict, in a stalemate since 2008.

During her brief visit in the Rabouni camp, the second since last May, Kim Bolduc held private talks with the Polisario leader, Mohamed Abdelaziz.

No official details were disclosed on the contents of the talks but all observers convened they focused on the UN chief’s coming trip.

Well-informed Sahrawi sources in Rabouni have nonetheless said that the head of MINURSO would have tried to convince Mohamed Abdelaziz to make new proposals, other than the self-determination referendum-deemed by many pundits as obsolete and unworkable- to pave the way to a political and consensual settlement of the Sahara territorial conflict.

According to these sources, Kim Bolduc told the Polisario leader that the losers in this deadlock are the thousands of Sahrawis who have been confined in the Tindouf desert for nearly forty years, waiting for a final solution that is so long in coming.

Mohamed Abdelaziz told Kim Bolduc that he could not take any decision on his own, as he needs to consult with the Polisario front leadership and first of all to take the advice of the leaders of Algeria, the host country to which the Polisario feels heavily indebted, said the sources ironically.

The success of the UN Secretary General’s coming tour remains therefore dependent on the success of his Special Representative’s efforts. But according to the Sahrawi sources, Bolduc has knocked at the wrong door because the solution to the conflict is to be found in the Algerian Presidential palace in Algiers and not in the Rabouni camp, the headquarters of the Polisario.

Morocco, which enjoys the support of the international community, repeatedly renews its proposal to offer Western Sahara a large autonomy under its sovereignty, making it clear however that this is the most it can offer. Meanwhile, the Polisario continues, as instructed by the rulers of Algiers, to demand a “self-determination referendum,” an option that the former UN mediator for Western Sahara Peter van Walsum had declared, several years ago, as unrealistic and impracticable.

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