Sahara: Rabat, Laayoune Might be Removed from Ban Ki-Moon’s Agenda

m6-ban-ki-moonAt Morocco’s request, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will not travel to Rabat and Laayoune, in the framework of his first North African tour to kick off on March 4 in a bid to unlock the Western Sahara conflict.

The Rabat and Laayoune legs, announced earlier, were excluded from Ban Ki-Moon’s schedule. The UN Secretary General will visit Mauritania, the Tindouf camps and then Algiers March 4 through 7.

Rabat had actually requested on February 10, on the occasion of the Security Council debate on the Western Sahara issue, a postponement of Ban Ki-Moon’s trip to the Kingdom, because the date coincides with the official visit of King Mohammed VI in Russia.

The UN chief will nevertheless make a short stopover in the locality of Bir Lahlou, located in the buffer zone, to get in touch with the peacekeepers of MINURSO, the UN mission monitoring the ceasefire in the Sahara since 1991.

Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Rabat and Laayoune, capital of the southern provinces of the Kingdom, has thus been postponed until next July. However, the trip remains dependent on the content of the annual report that the South Korean diplomat will present early April to the Security Council.

In any case, Morocco is not willing to give any more concessions other than its autonomy proposal for the Sahara, as this was reaffirmed by King Mohammed VI in the speech he delivered from Laayoune on November 6, to mark the 40th anniversary of the Green March.

 “Those who are waiting for any other concession on Morocco’s part are deceiving themselves. Indeed, Morocco has given all there was to give. It has given of its sons’ blood to defend the Sahara,” said the King who holds Algeria fully responsible of the suffering, poverty, despair, and deprivation endured by the Sahrawi populations forcibly detained in the Tindouf camps on Algerian soil.

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