President of the Republic: the report of the Secretary-General is reductive and does not reflect the situation, and practical measures are crucial to facilitate the successful conclusion of the decolonisation of the last colony in Africa

Bir Lehlou (Sahrawi Republic) 6 October 2020 (SPS)- The President of the Republic and Secretary-General of Frente POLISARIO, Mr Brahim Ghali, addressed a letter to both the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr António Guterres, and the Russian Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr Vassily Nebenzia, the current President of the Security Council, stressing that the recent Secretary-General’s report does not reflect the reality of the alarming situation in occupied Western Sahara, stressing the need for taking serious and practical measures to bring to a successful conclusion the decolonisation of Western Sahara, the last colony in Africa.

President of the Republic underlined that the Frente POLISARIO does not share the Secretary-General’s assessment that the general situation in the Territory and at Guerguerat is calm. The fact remains that the situation in the Territory is far from being calm, particularly in the Territories of Western Sahara under the illegal occupation of Morocco.

President of the Sahrawi Republic enquired how the situation could be calm whilst the Moroccan occupying authorities are intensifying their repressive and terrorising actions against Sahrawi civilians in occupied Western Sahara and when the continued illegal presence and activities of the Moroccan army in the Buffer Strip in Guerguerat are fuelling more tension in the area and seriously endangering the ceasefire

Regarding the criticism expressed by the Frente POLISARIO regarding MINURSO and the United Nations, which is referred to in the Report, President of the Republic affirmed in his letter that this position is justified and is not only related to the lack of progress in the political process, as the Secretary-General reports. The United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has not only failed so far to implement the mandate for which it was established by Security Council resolution 690 (1991) but it has also become a passive bystander of Morocco’s annexationist actions aimed to forcibly entrench and “normalise” its illegal occupation of parts of Western Sahara. Moreover, the United Nations has repeatedly failed to act robustly to end Morocco’s deliberate attempts to undermine MINURSO mandate and to reduce it to ceasefire monitoring, and thus to transform the Mission into a “firefighter” and a maintainer of the status quo.

According to the President of the Republic, this utterly unacceptable situation, among many other things, was the reason that compelled the Frente POLISARIO to take its decision of 30 October 2019 regarding the reconsideration of our engagement in the UN peace process in its entirety. President of the Republic underlined that “as long as this situation persists, the Frente POLISARIO will not engage in any process that is not in line with the parameters of the mandate for which implementation MINURSO was established by the Security Council in its resolution 690 (1991) of 29 April 1991.”

President of the Republic also raised the issue of the systematic human rights violations to which the Sahrawi people in occupied Western Sahara are subjected by the Moroccan occupying authorities. He drew attention to the fact that the report fails to mention that such violations are mounting at an alarming rate, and that the fate of dozens of Sahrawi prisoners and disappeared remain unaccounted for in addition to the many people who were denied access to or expelled from the Territory by the Moroccan occupying authorities.

President of the Republic observed that, given the persistent systematic human rights violations perpetrated by Moroccan authorities against the Sahrawi people, we cannot understand why MINURSO mandate is not expanded to include a human rights component that would enable the independent, impartial, comprehensive and sustained monitoring of the human rights situation in the Mission area, as called for repeatedly by the Secretary-General in his previous reports.

Regarding the reference in the report to “the status of the buffer strip as a demilitarised zone”, President of the Republic reaffirmed the position of the Frente POLISARIO that the Moroccan illegal breach in Guerguerat did not exist at the time of the entry into force of the ceasefire on 6 September 1991. It also did not exist when Military Agreement No. 1 was signed between MINURSO and the Frente POLISARIO on 24 December 1997, and between MINURSO and Morocco on 22 January 1998. None of the two agreements included any provisions authorising the creation of breaches or crossing points for civilian and other activities along the Moroccan military wall. The breach, which constitutes a unilateral change of the status quo in the Buffer Strip, was negotiated neither between the two parties nor between the two parties and the United Nations. The President of the Republic called on the United Nations to close immediately the Moroccan illegal breach because it is endangering not only the situation in the Buffer Strip but also the ceasefire itself.      

Regarding the relation and interaction between MINURSO and the Frente POLISARIO, President of the Republic stressed that the relation with MINURSO is governed by the agreements reached with the Mission in the context of the implementation of its mandate as established the Security Council. Consequently, the Frente POLISARIO cannot accept any dictates as to where or how it should meet with MINURSO civilian and military leadership. The position of the Frente POLISARIO regarding this issue is abundantly clear and is based on a sound legal foundation.

President of the Republic stressed that it is utterly unacceptable that, because of fear of reprisals by Morocco and the latter’s continued policy of blackmail on this issue, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MINURSO and other senior civilian and military officials of the Mission cannot meet with the Frente POLISARIO at any location within the boundaries of the Territory, particularly the Liberated Territories of Western Sahara administered by the Frente POLISARIO.

In closing, President of the Republic underlined that the situation in Western Sahara, particularly in the Territories of Western Sahara under the Moroccan illegal occupation, remains alarmingly unstable. The political process is completely paralysed, and the Sahrawi people have lost faith in the United Nations and its Mission that has regrettably become a passive bystander to the Moroccan unlawful actions that aim to consolidate Morocco’s illegal occupation of parts of Western Sahara that remains a Non-Self-Governing Territory on the United Nations agenda. In this regard, President of the Republic stressed that, at a time when the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution on the renewal of MINURSO mandate by the end of the month, the only way forward therefore is to take serious, practical actions with a view to creating the necessary conditions for MINURSO to implement the primary mandate for which it was originally established, namely the holding of a free and fair referendum whereby the people of Western Sahara would exercise freely and democratically their inalienable right to self-determination and independence, thus bringing to a successful conclusion the decolonisation of the last colony in Africa.


 (SPS)

090/500/60 (SPS)