Morocco says it no longer has confidence in U.N. envoy


Morocco on Thursday said it had lost confidence in the United Nations’ envoy for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, claiming he made “biased and unbalanced” decisions concerning the disputed region.

“The contrasting behaviors of Mr. Ross differ from the guidelines agreed by negotiations at the Security Council. Because of this, Morocco has decided to withdraw its confidence” in Ross, the government said in a statement.

Ross in March led informal talks in New York between Morocco and the Polisario Front - a group working to win the independence of Western Sahara from Morocco. The talks made little head way, Ross has said.

The U.N. report on Western Sahara released last month said that Morocco’s tactics had “undermined” U.N. attempts to report on events in the territory.

The statement provided no additional details except to say Morocco was concerned about U.S. diplomat Ross’s behavior.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gave strong backing to his Western Sahara envoy after the Moroccan government said it had “no confidence” in the diplomat.

“The secretary general has complete confidence in Christopher Ross,” said U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky in reaction to the Moroccan government statement which accused the envoy of being “biased and unbalanced.”

Morocco’s Foreign Minister Saad Dine Otmani met U.N. leader Ban last week and said after that he raised “worries” about the report.

Western Sahara is a former Spanish colony that was annexed by Morocco in 1975.

Rabat has proposed making the area largely autonomous but keeping it under Moroccan sovereignty. The Polisario Front, which is supported by Algeria, has rejected the proposal.