Western Sahara: UN welcomes withdrawal of Polisario Front from Guerguerat area

28 April 2017

The United Nations today welcomed the withdrawal of all Polisario Front elements from the Guerguerat area, between the berm and the border with Mauritania, as confirmed by observers of the UN Mission on Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, on 27-28 April.

The United Nations today welcomed the withdrawal of all Polisario Front elements from the Guerguerat area, between the berm and the border with Mauritania, as confirmed by observers of the UN Mission on Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, on 27-28 April.

According to a statement issued by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, António Guterres, together with the earlier withdrawal of Moroccan elements from the area, in response to the urging of the Secretary-General, this action should improve the prospects of creating an environment that will facilitate early implementation of Mr. Guterres's determination to relaunch the negotiating process.

The process would be relaunched with a new dynamic and a new spirit that reflects the Security Council's guidance and resolutions, with the aim of reaching a “mutually acceptable political solution which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.”

“We continue to call on the parties to adhere to their obligations under the ceasefire agreement and to respect both its letter and spirit, and to cooperate fully with MINURSO,” said the Spokesman, adding that the need to ensure that tensions do not erupt anew in the Guerguerat area remains vital.

To this end, MINURSO intends to maintain the position it has held in the Buffer Strip since August 2016 and further discuss the Mission's future monitoring of the area and the full range of issues related to the Buffer Strip with the parties, the statement added.

The statement comes as the UN Security Council today unanimously extended MINURSO's mandate until 30 April 20 18. Through a resolution, the Council reaffirmed the need for full respect of the military agreements reached with MINUSRSO with regard to the ceasefire and called on all the parties to adhere fully to those agreements.

Western Sahara is located on the north-west coast of Africa bordered by Morocco, Mauritania and Algeria. The colonial administration of Western Sahara by Spain ended in 1976. Fighting later broke out between Morocco and the Polisario Front. A ceasefire was signed in September 1991. MINURSO was deployed that year to monitor the ceasefire between the Government of Morocco and the Polisario Front and organizing, if the parties agree, a referendum on self-determination in Western Sahara.

A revised settlement plan was proposed by the United Nations after seven years of diplomatic consultations was rejected by one of the parties in 2004. In approving the current phase of direct negotiations in 2007, the UN Security Council called for “a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political settlement which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.”

 

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News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

Western Sahara: UN chief urges Morocco and Polisario Front to de-escalate tensions in buffer strip

Deeply concerned about increased tensions in the vicinity of Guerguerat in the buffer strip in southern Western Sahara between the Moroccan berm and the Mauritanian border, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today called on Morocco and Frente Polisario to “take all necessary steps” to avoid escalation.