The UN Security Council held a closed-door meeting on the Moroccan Sahara on Tuesday (March 28) at the request of Uruguayan Ambassador Elbio Oscar Rosselli. However, the Uruguayan diplomat prevented the head of the United Nations peacekeeping operations, Hervé Ladsous, from briefing the Council on the serious situation prevailing in Guerguarat.
Hervé Ladsous was summoned to this meeting to brief the Security Council on the latest developments in the Sahara, but he was interrupted by the representative of Uruguay, one of the fervent defenders of the Polisario’s separatist theses. Elbio Oscar Rosselli asked Ladsous to stick to the issue on the agenda of the meeting, namely the review of the return of the MINURSO to full functionality.
Actually, the Uruguayan ambassador was afraid that the head of the UN peacekeeping operations would lambast the separatist front because of the presence and provocative acts of Polisario armed elements in the Guerguarat buffer zone.
In the view of the representative of Uruguay at the United Nations, the return of the civilian component of the MINURSO is more important than the danger hovering over the whole region, because of the presence of the Polisario armed militiamen in the buffer zone. This zone, demilitarized under the 1991 ceasefire agreement, is under the exclusive control of the MINURSO monitors.
The presence of the armed elements of the Polisario in Guerguarat is not only a blatant violation of the ceasefire agreement but might ignite a new armed conflict that would destabilize the entire Maghreb and Sahel region.
It is in this context that Ladsous wanted to underline the gravity of the situation in Guerguarat, in his briefing before the Security Council.
Besides, his presentation falls in line with the appeal launched last February 25 by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, who had himself stressed the gravity of the situation in the Guerguarat buffer strip. The UN chief had then called on Morocco and the Algeria-backed Polisario to show restraint and withdraw their forces from the buffer zone. Morocco unilaterally withdrew its forces from the area on February 26, while the Polisario has maintained its armed militiamen, who continue to hamper trade flows between Morocco and Mauritania.