UNSC extends mandate of UN mission for Western Sahara

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United Nations, April 28 (IANS/MAP) The UN Security Council has adopted a resolution to extend the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara for six months till October 31.

The “Resolution 2414” won the support of 12 of the 15 members of the Security Council on Friday while China, Ethiopia and Russia abstained.

The resolution emphasized the importance of a renewed commitment by the parties to advancing the political process in preparation for a new round of negotiations.

It emphasized the need to make progress towards a “realistic, practicable and enduring political solution” to the question of Western Sahara based on compromise.

The resolution expressed concern over the presence of the Polisario Front, which is fighting with Morocco for the independence of Western Sahara, in the buffer strip in Guerguerat, in the southwestern tip of the disputed territory, and called for its immediate withdrawal.

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Moroccan Ambassador to the UN Omar Hilale said after the adoption of the resolution that there would be no political process without the withdrawal of the Polisario Front from Guerguerat.

The resolution also voiced concern over the Polisario Front’s announcement of the planned relocation of its administrative functions from Algeria to Bir Lahlou in the northeast of Western Sahara, and called for the Polisario Front to refrain from “any such destabilizing actions”.

Western Sahara was partitioned between Morocco and Mauritania at the end of Spain’s colonial rule in 1976. When Mauritania, under pressure from Polisario rebels, abandoned all claims to its portion in August 1979, Morocco moved to occupy that sector and asserted administrative control over the whole territory.

Fighting broke out between Morocco and the pro-independence Polisario Front. A ceasefire was signed in 1991.

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The UN mission, known by its French acronym as Minurso, was deployed that year to monitor the ceasefire and to organise a referendum on self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.

–IANS/MAP

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