Morocco says Western Sahara decision ‘irreversible’
Morocco this month ordered the UN to pull out dozens of civilian staffers and close a military liaison office for the MINURSO peacekeeping mission
Morocco’s decision to reduce United Nations staff at the Western Sahara mission is sovereign and irreversible, but the government is committed to military cooperation with the UN to guarantee the ceasefire there, the foreign minister said on Thursday.
Morocco this month ordered the UN to pull out dozens of civilian staffers and close a military liaison office for the MINURSO peacekeeping mission after criticizing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for using the word “occupation” to describe Morocco’s annexation of the disputed territory.
“Our decision is sovereign and irreversible,” Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar told reporters in Rabat.
Morocco took over most of the territory in 1975 from colonial Spain. That started a guerrilla war with the Sahrawi people’s Polisario Front who say the desert territory on Africa’s northwest belongs to them.
The U.N. brokered a ceasefire in 1991 and sent in its MINURSO mission, which consists of military and civilian staff, to monitor the ceasefire and organize a referendum over the region’s future. But deadlock has delayed the vote for years.
U.N. officials had repeatedly urged the UN Security Council to publicly voice its support for Ban and MINURSO, something the 15-nation body was unable to do until late on Thursday in New York.
Rabat has accused Ban of dropping the UN’s neutral stance on the dispute, which UN officials deny, saying the secretary-general’s remarks were merely an emotional response after meeting with Sahrawi refugees.
Morocco closes UN military liaison office in W. SaharaThe UN mission was established in 1991 to monitor the ceasefire and prepare for elections in Western Sahara Middle East
UN staffers pull out of Western Sahara missionRabat accused Ban Ki-Moon earlier this month of no longer being neutral in the Western Sahara dispute News
W Sahara group warns of war if UN leavesMorocco annexed Western Sahara in 1975 and fought the Polisario Front until the UN brokered a cease-fire in 1991 Middle East
Morocco accuses UN's Ban of dropping neutral tone in West Sahara disputeMorocco’s government has accused Ban Ki-moon of no longer being neutral in the Western Sahara conflict Middle East