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Date of posting : April 5, 2018

FM Explains Sahara Developments to UN Accredited Reporters

 Foreign minister Nasser Bourita presented, Wednesday in New York, the developments that occurred recently in the Moroccan Sahara issue to representatives of international media outlets accredited to the UN.
He said that upon the orders of HM King Mohammed VI, “I handed, along with Morocco’s permanent representative to the UN, a written message by HM the King to Mr. Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General, concerning the grave developments taking place in the zone east of the security structure in the Moroccan sahara.”
Bourita said that the sovereign also held talks with Mr. Guterres fearing that the situation in Bir Lahlou and Tifariti worsens beyond any resolution unlike what happened in Guergarate. “HM the King expressed, on behalf of the country’s lifeblood irrespective of their backgrounds, Morocco’s firm, clear and resolute rejection of these provocations and unacceptable incursions by the polisario in the region,” said Bourita.
HM the King stressed to Guterres that such acts are a threat to the ceasefire proclaimed in the Sahara since Sept. 6, 1991, violate international law and UN resolutions and seriously compromise the political process led under the UN aegis by personal envoy Horst Kohler, he went on.
HM the King, in his talks with the UNSG, recalled that in this regional dispute that has been running for over 40 years, “Algeria bears a blatant responsibility. It is Algeria that hosts, arms, backs up and brings diplomatic support for the polisario”. This is why Morocco is asking and has always asked Algeria to take part in the political process, to shoulder its full responsibility in searching for a solution and to play a role that matches its responsibility in the genesis and evolution of this regional dispute.
Bourita also had a meeting with President of the UN Security Council for the month of April, the Permanent Representative of Peru Gustavo Meza-Cuadra, to inform him of the content of the Royal message and the discussions with the Secretary-General.
“The clear message that Morocco has conveyed today to both the presidency of the Council and the UN Secretary General is a warning message. The situation is serious, and what happens in this area is not « business as usual ». We are seeing a change in the legal and historical status of the zone east of the defense structure, he said.
Morocco has presented to the UNSG “facts and evidence concerning these inadmissible acts”. These meetings were an opportunity to recall that the SG Special Representative Mr. Colin Stewart, head of Minurso, “has not yet been received by the polisario, because the polisario imposed a condition: that he is received in Tifariti or Bir Lahlou and not in Tindouf, Algeria, as has been the case since the creation of the Minurso,” Bourita noted.
This is a new fact, a dangerous precedent, he said, adding that the Polisario is blackmailing the Minurso and the UNSG Special Representative by trying to impose a venue inside this area, which has never been done before.
The second fact that the Moroccan side shared with the Secretary-General is a letter from the polisairo to the commander of the military force, on March 24, in which the polisario informs the Minurso of its intention to set up permanent military posts in this area east of the defense structure, the minister said.
The third fact is the public statements of the polisairo, encouraged by Algeria, concerning the deployment of some structures of the polisairo from Tindouf to this area. There have been talks of a so-called ministry of defense, a so-called presidency of the republic, a national secretariat of the polisario that would be transferred from Tindouf to Tifariti or Bir Lahlou east of the defense structure.
“Morocco shared with the Secretary-General satellite photos showing buildings under construction. Images from August 8 show that there were foundations in this area, the image of March 26 shows that the buildings are completed and military barracks have been already set up. Many buildings have been constructed from August up to now in this area,” he said.
All this show a will by the polisario, encouraged by Algeria, to change the nature of this zone, said Bourita.
“Morocco, by sharing these information, has made it clear that it cannot accept such a change,” he said, adding that “if the international community, the Security Council and the United Nations do not shoulder their responsibility, Morocco will assume its responsibility to avoid such a change, and to prevent such a challenge to international law and UN resolutions, and such a threat to peace and stability in this region”.
Bourita recalled that upon the instructions of His Majesty the King, the Permanent Representative of Morocco to the UN had already warned the Security Council last weekend, stating that if nothing is done, Morocco will consider that this is a casus belli and will act consequently.
“Morocco cannot allow this change, and leave this area, which was entrusted to the United Nations, in the hands of a military movement with dubious connections,” Bourita underlined.
Morocco, which has always favored peace at home, and even elsewhere with all its contributions to peacekeeping operations, “warns that what is happening is intolerable, and will be faced with a reaction from Morocco, if the Security Council and the United Nations do not assume their responsibility,” the minister concluded.