October 22, 2021

Beyond Going Long

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The Secretary-General of the United Nations said that the situation in Western Sahara has deteriorated significantly

The situation is worsening in Morocco, where the local separatist movement is demanding self-determination.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the situation in Western Sahara “has deteriorated significantly” over the past year, citing growing tensions between Morocco and separatists from the Polisario Front, AFP reported.

“The resumption of fighting between Morocco and the Polisario Front is a major obstacle to a political solution,” Guterres said in a report to the UN Security Council.

“There is a clear risk of escalation as long as hostile behavior continues…I therefore call on all parties to de-escalate the situation and end hostilities immediately,” he added in an unpublished report received by AFP on Saturday.

According to Guterres, the two parties must agree to appoint a UN envoy in order to resume the political dialogue on Western Sahara. The post of UN envoy to the region has been vacant since May 2019, when former German President Horst Köhler resigned due to health reasons. Guterres has since nominated several candidates, but each of them has been rejected by Morocco or the Polisario Front.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations also noted in his report that the Polisario movement said last November that it no longer felt bound by the ceasefire agreement.

The Polisario Front is demanding that the United Nations call a referendum on self-determination, while Morocco – which controls more than two-thirds of the former Spanish colony – has offered the region autonomy, but insists on retaining sovereignty over it.

Algeria, which supports the Polisario movement, cut diplomatic relations with Morocco in August due to the situation in Western Sahara in particular, according to AFP.

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