UN: Ban Ki-Moon Finally Presents his Report on the Sahara to Security Council

sg-onuThe annual report on the Sahara that the UN Secretary General submitted to the Security Council Monday in the late afternoon shows little change compared to previous versions.

Ban Ki-moon’s long-awaited report was received with great disappointment in Algiers as well as in the Polisario headquarters in Rabouni. Algerian and polisario leaders were expecting a firmer position on the part of the United Nations and even sanctions against Morocco for expelling more than 74 civilian members of the UN mission in Western Sahara, the MINURSO.

The UN Chief limited himself to recommend the renewal of the MINURSO mandate for one year, until April 2017.

Ban Ki-Moon has even expressed again regrets for the “misunderstanding” caused by his use of the word “occupation” to describe the Moroccan presence in the Sahara, during his visit early March, in Algeria and in the Tindouf camps.

In a gesture of appeasement, he said that the UN position on the Sahara issue “has not changed,” adding to the injury of the leaders of Algiers and the Polisario.

It seems that Ban Ki-Moon has finally admitted his blunders vis-à-vis Morocco, after he failed to get the support of the Security Council members, particularly the permanent members, which have not even blamed the kingdom for the measures taken against MINURSO.

In his report, Ban Ki-Moon also asked, and this is a première, that Algeria and Mauritania be involved in the settlement process of the Sahara issue, whereas in the past the two countries were taking part in the negotiations as observers. It is therefore a significant change in the jargon of the UN chief, who, in previous reports, used only to call for the “commitment of neighboring States” in the political process sponsored by the United Nations.

Finally, Ban Ki-Moon called the parties to the conflict (Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the Polisario) to return to the negotiating table “without preconditions” and “in good faith” in order to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable settlement of the territorial conflict over the Sahara.

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