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Security Council mulling options for future action in Western Sahara

Security Council mulling options for future action in Western Sahara

Security Council members said today they were in the process of considering a recent report by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the so-far fruitless efforts to resolve the dispute concerning Western Sahara and would consult with Mr. Annan’s envoy involved in the matter before taking any action.

The current President of the Council, Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser of Mexico, said in a press statement that the 15-member body would continue to deliberate on the situation in Western Sahara with Mr. Annan’s Special Envoy, James Baker. “After meeting with [Mr.] Baker the Council Members will be in a position to consider the draft resolution,” he added.

In a report released last week the Secretary-General painted a “rather bleak” picture of the situation and suggested four options for the Council to consider: The first would have the UN resume trying to implement the 1988 settlement plan, even without the concurrence of the two parties in conflict over Western Sahara's future status; the second would have Mr. Baker try to revise the draft Framework Agreement – again without necessarily gaining the agreement of both Morocco and the Frente POLISARIO.

A third option would be to mandate Mr. Baker to discuss a possible division of the territory with interested parties, while a fourth would see the Council terminate the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) due to the lack of progress.

In today’s statement, Ambassador Aguilar Zinser said the Council members expressed their concern regarding humanitarian issues in Western Sahara, especially with regard to prisoners of war, and urged the POLISARIO Front to release all the detainees.

Council members also expected progress on humanitarian issues related to refugees on the border, and urged the parties to avoid any action that could aggravate the situation. They also asked the parties to ensure freedom of movement of MINURSO, Ambassador Aguilar Zinser said.