Secret Discussions in Morocco on MINURSO’s Future

minurso--1Secret discussions on the future of MINURSO, the United Nations mission in Western Sahara, are currently being held in Morocco.

Moroccan authorities and UN diplomats have officially resumed negotiations about the return of the 84 agents of the MINURSO’s civilian and political components, expelled from their posts in the Moroccan Sahara in March.

A delegation from the UN peacekeeping operations department, including among others, the Moroccan diplomat, Jamal Benomar, UN envoy to Burundi, is currently on mission in Morocco, Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman, Stephan Dujarric, confirmed at a press briefing in New York.

The spokesman said this visit falls “within the framework of the ongoing dialogue with Morocco” for the implementation of Security Council resolution 2285. The resolution, voted on April 29, calls for the “immediate restoration of the full functionality of the MINURSO.”

The resolution, adopted by an absolute majority, gives the kingdom and the UN Secretary General a period of three months to reach agreement on the return of the 84 MINURSO agents.

Morocco had expelled the MINURSO agents in retaliation to the statements made by Ban Ki-Moon during his visit in the Tindouf camps and in Bir Lahlou in the buffer zone. Rabat had deemed the statements “politically inappropriate”.

Ban is required to submit to the Security Council a final report on the results of the negotiations with Morocco by the end of July.

According to informed sources, Moroccan officials have put forward some conditions for the return of the expelled agents. Rabat has thus reportedly demanded that the peacekeepers focus primarily on monitoring, in the disputed part of the Moroccan Sahara, the cease-fire, concluded in 1991.

If the UN calls for the return of MINURSO’s normal and full functionality, Rabat authorities reject the presence on Moroccan soil of peacekeepers having affinities with the separatist thesis of the Polisario.

It is worth recalling that for the same reasons an Egyptian peacekeeper, caught in the act of indoctrinating young militias of the Polisario, had been expelled by MINURSO at the request of Rabat.

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