Ban Ki-moon: It is time to engage in "serious negotiations" to settle Western Sahara conflict

Washington, April 19, 2016 (SPS) -The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon affirmed Tuesday that "it is time to engage in serious negotiations" leading to the self-determination of the Western Sahara people.

"It is time to engage in serious negotiations without pre-conditions and in good faith in order to reach a mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara,” the UN SG stressed in the recommendations of this periodic report on Western Sahara, of which APS obtained a copy.

The report, sent to the UN Security Council, will be examined on 27 April, according to a UN source.

Ban reaffirmed that the political solution must include the resolution of Western Sahara, regretting the blocking of the political process that started in 2007 and could not culminate in genuine solutions.

The fundamental difficulty that hindered this process lies in the fact that Morocco has always and unilaterally "considered its autonomy plan as the unique basis for negotiations," he stated.

The UN SG recalled that the MINURSO had been created by the Security Council to monitor the ceasefire and hold a self-determination referendum but the expulsion of its civilian component by Morocco hampered the peacekeeping mission.

The Mission's inability to fulfill its mission will lead, in the short and medium terms, significant consequences on stability in the region and the credibility of the peacekeeping operation of the UN Security Council, warned Ban who expressed "his deep concern" over the security situation in the occupied territories.

"Security in these territories may deteriorate with this crisis that has strongly impacted the ceasefire monitoring mission of the MINURSO," Ban said. 

He also called on the Security Council to renew MINURSO’s mandate for an additional period of one year until April 30, 2017.

“The risk of a rupture of the ceasefire and a resumption of hostilities, with its attendant danger of escalation into full-scale war, will grow significantly in the event that MINURSO is forced to depart from the occupied territories,” he warned. (SPS)