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Security Council extends UN mission in Western Sahara for another year

Security Council extends UN mission in Western Sahara for another year

The Security Council today extended until 30 April 2009 the mandate of the United Nations mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO), tasked with monitoring the ceasefire between Morocco and the Frente Polisario and organizing a referendum on self-determination.

In a unanimously adopted resolution, the Council called on the parties to enter into “a more intensive and substantive phase of negotiations” to resolve their long-running dispute.

Morocco holds that its sovereignty over Western Sahara should be recognized, while the Frente Polisario's position is that the Territory's final status should be decided in a referendum that includes independence as an option.

In his recent report on the issue, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote that while he welcomed the commitment of the two parties – outlined in a communiqué issued after UN-led talks held in March – to continue their negotiations, so far there was no sign of any breakthrough in the dispute.

“Momentum can only be maintained by trying to find a way out of the current political impasse through realism and a spirit of compromise from both parties,” he stated, a view endorsed by the Council in the resolution adopted today.

UN-sponsored talks on the issue are facilitated by Peter van Walsum, the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, and include representatives of neighbouring States, Algeria and Mauritania.

The Council called on the parties to continue with negotiations without preconditions and in good faith, “with a view to achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution.”