In a phone call with King Mohammed VI of Morocco this past weekend, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reiterated the commitment of the United Nations to the negotiation process aimed at reaching a settlement in the Western Sahara dispute.
According to information provided by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson to the media over the weekend, the UN chief stated that the UN “does not intend to modify the terms of its mediation, whose purpose is to promote the achievement of a mutually acceptable political solution to this conflict.”
The UN has been involved in efforts to find a settlement in Western Sahara since 1976, when fighting broke out between Morocco and the movement known as Frente Polisario, after the Spanish colonial administration of the territory ended.
A peacekeeping force, known as the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has been in place since 1991, and is currently headed by Mr. Ban’s Special Representative, Wolfgang Weisbrod-Weber. In addition, Mr. Ban’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, has also been involved in the mediation process to help resolve the issue.
During the telephone call, Mr. Ban also reaffirmed that Mr. Ross and Mr. Weisbrod-Weber will fulfil their respective mandates promoting the negotiating process and encouraging further improvement of Moroccan-Algerian relations.