UN Council extends peacekeeping mandate in Western Sahara through October

28 April 2006

Calling once again upon the parties and States in the region to end the current impasse in Western Sahara, the Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum there (MINURSO) for six months, through October 2006.

Calling once again upon the parties and States in the region to end the current impasse in Western Sahara, the Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum there (MINURSO) for six months, through October 2006.

Through a unanimously adopted resolution, the Council also reiterated its call for contributions to help re-unite families separated during the long-running dispute.

In recommending the mandate extension in his latest report on the matter, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says MINURSO continues to play a key stabilizing and monitoring role in the ceasefire between Morocco, which claims the former Spanish colony, and the Frente POLISARIO independence movement.

Mr. Annan voiced hope that during the next half year, “the parties will reflect on the prolonged period that has elapsed since the start of this conflict and on the need for both to take actions that may lead to a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution.”

MINURSO was established in 1991 to organize a self-determination referendum in the territory, but in April 2004, Morocco said it could not accept a referendum that included independence as an option.

This led the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, Peter van Walsum, to warn that any new plan “would be doomed from the outset to be rejected by Morocco unless it excluded the provision for a referendum with independence as an option,” the report notes.

For its part, the UN “could not endorse a plan that excluded a genuine referendum while claiming to provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara,” Mr. Annan says.

Given those strictures, two options remain, he says: indefinite prolongation of the current deadlock in anticipation of a different political reality; or direct negotiations between the parties.

After today’s vote, Council members urged the parties to take heed of the Secretary-General’s report and use the next six months to reach a negotiated settlement of the impasse.

 

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