Morocco ‘satisfied’ with U.N. vote on Western Sahara

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Morocco voiced its “satisfaction” on Thursday at the U.N. Security Council resolution renewing the mandate of the Western Sahara peacekeeping force, which dropped U.S. plans to task it with rights monitoring.

U.N. Resolution 2099, which extends the U.N. mission’s mandate for one year, instead urged Morocco and Polisario Front rebels “to continue in their respective efforts to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights in Western Sahara and the Tindouf refugee camps” in Algeria.

Rabat noted “with satisfaction this resolution which forcefully confirms the essential parameters of the political solution,” in a statement issued by the palace on Thursday.

“The Security Council confirms, by this resolution, the continuation of the current mandate of MINURSO and its activities,” the palace said, insisting the resolution “recognises and welcomes” the kingdom’s efforts to strengthen human rights.

Moroccan authorities have faced accusations of torturing Sahrawi activists who want independence for the region.

For the first time the United States had proposed that the U.N. mission, known as MINURSO, carry out “monitoring and reporting on human rights” in the Western Sahara and Polisario-run camps.

The Western Sahara mission is one of the few U.N. peacekeeping operations that does not have a human rights element, and the U.S. proposal triggered a furious lobbying campaign by Morocco to block any such move.

The kingdom occupied the former Spanish colony in 1975 in a move never recognized by the international community, and the Polisario Front took up arms to fight for an independent state in the Western Sahara.

The U.N. negotiated a ceasefire in 1991, but its efforts to negotiate a permanent peace deal are deadlocked.

Rabat proposes broad autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty for the disputed, phosphate-rich region, but the Polisario has rejected this, insisting on Sahrawis’ right to a U.N.-monitored referendum on independence.

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