New UN envoy for Western Sahara heads to region for consultations

17 February 2009

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara is on his way to the region for consultations with the parties, Morocco and the Frente Polisario, as part of United Nations efforts to help broker a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution regarding the Territory’s status.

This will be the first visit to the area for Christopher Ross since taking up the post last month. It follows meetings he held in New York last week, including with Mr. Ban and members of the Security Council, as well as with Morocco and the Frente Polisario.

He will be in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, tomorrow, followed by Tindouf and Algiers. He will then travel to Madrid and Paris, the capitals of two of the members of the Group of Friends, from 25 to 27 February.

Mr. Ross, who replaced Peter van Walsum, is expected to return to New York following the trip for further consultations at UN Headquarters.

Several rounds of UN-led talks, bringing together representatives from Morocco and the Frente Polisario, held last year resulted in the parties agreeing to continue negotiations in good faith towards a solution to the issue.

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.

 

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Secretary-General names two new senior UN envoys

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has informed the Security Council of his intention to appoint Christopher Ross of the United States as his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara and Michael von der Schulenburg as his Executive Representative for the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL).