domingo, 19 de abril de 2009

UN calls for peaceful talks on the future of W/Sahara

The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon has called on peaceful negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario Front ahead of the talks on the future of the disputed Western Sahara. Four rounds of the UN-brokered talks in New York since 2007 have failed to resolve the long-standing dispute between the two rivals.

Mr Ban appealed to the negotiating partners to show political will to enter into substantive discussions and ensure the success of the negotiations.

“As it would appear from the consultations held thus far that little has changed since the last round of negotiations to facilitate a positive outcome for the fifth round, careful preparation is needed,” Mr Ban stated in the new report presented to the Security Council.

Morocco holds that its position in Western Sahara should be recognised, while the Polisario Front contends that the Territory's final status should be decided in a referendum that includes independence as an option.

In February the UN special envoy Christopher Ross who visited the region established that the parties remained far apart on ways to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution.

Mr Ban also voiced concern about the humanitarian situation of the Western Saharan refugees, many of whom have been living in camps in the Tindouf area of neighbouring Algeria for years.

The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has been in place since September 1991 to monitor the ceasefire between Morocco and the Polisario Front, which contests the territory.

The UN secretary general also suggested the council extend the mandate of the UN mission in Western Sahara for another year until 30 April 2010.

Morocco has annexed the former Spanish colony since 1976, leaving around one third of mostly uninhabited Sahrawi lands, the interior part bordering Algeria and Mauritania on Polisario's hands.

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