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UN renews its peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara for another year



           


Minurso pursues a peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara (photo: Minurso)
Minurso pursues a peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara (photo: Minurso)
MOROCCO. The United Nations Security Council renewed Minurso's mandate for another year, on the evening of Friday, October 30, 2020.
Based in Laayoune, the armed force that has been maintaining peace in Western Sahara since April 1991 will therefore be able to continue its mission until October 31, 2021.

Resolution 2548 presented by the United States was ratified by the fifteen members of the Council (in writing because of the pandemic), with thirteen votes in favor and two abstentions, those of Russia and South Africa. This text congratulates Morocco for its "serious and credible" efforts and validates the autonomy initiative proposed by the Kingdom since April 2007. The resolution, while recognizing once again Algeria as the main party to this regional dispute alongside Morocco, Mauritania and the Polisario, insists on the need to "reach a realistic, pragmatic and lasting political solution" on this issue.

"The achievement of a political solution to this long-standing dispute and the strengthening of cooperation among the member states of the Arab Maghreb Union would contribute to stability and security, leading in turn to the creation of jobs, growth and opportunities for all peoples of the Sahel region," the Security Council said.

 

A 45-year conflict

This conflict has opposed Morocco and Western Sahara (former Spanish colony until 1976) for forty-five years. Rabat considers this territory of 266,000 km² and 603,000 inhabitants (figure 2017) as one of its provinces. The Polisario Front and its self-proclaimed Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) are calling for a referendum on self-determination, and the UN has classified it on its list of "Non-Self-Governing Territories" since 1963. Mauritania has renounced all claims since 1979. Morocco controls 80% of Western Sahara and the Polisario Front controls the remaining 20%.

This extension of mandate comes at a time when the Minurso no longer has an official leader. Horst Köhler, personal envoy of the UN Secretary General for the Sahara, has indeed resigned in May 2019, officially for health reasons. His predecessor, Christophe Ross, had also thrown in the towel after eight years in this position.

The Minurso has 440 administrative staff (including 230 civilians) and 245 military. It has a budget of $60.45 million (€51.9 million).
 


Frédéric Dubessy


Monday, November 2nd 2020



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