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Date of posting : January 7, 2018

Morocco Says ‘Polisario’ Scuttles Political Process in Guergarat

In a statement to MAP, permanent representative of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United Nations in New York, ambassador Omar Hilale, took note with appreciation of the release of UN secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, published on Saturday, on the recent provocations of the “polisario” in Guergarat, in the Moroccan Sahara, affirming that the secretary-general fully shares the deep concern of the Kingdom of Morocco with regard to violations of the Military Agreements and threats to the cease-fire by the “polisario”.

Ambassador Hilale said that Morocco has taken steps at all levels, from the appearance of the first elements of the “polisario” in the buffer zone of Guergarat, on January 3rd,adding that after blocking the participants of the Sahara Desert Challenge Rally, they were forced to leave the premises by order of the MINURSO.

Hilale said Morocco seized, on Friday, the 15 members of the Security Council to alert them to the gravity of the deployment of new armed elements of the “polisario” in Guergarat, Friday morning, and to threats of the latter to block the passage, Monday, January 8th, of Africa Eco Race Rally. It called on all its interlocutors to firmly and swiftly assume their responsibility by demanding the immediate and unconditional departure of the “polisario” from the Guergarat zone.

The ambassador of Morocco added that the Kingdom vigorously condemns these repetitive acts of provocation by the “polisario” that violate the Military Agreements, jeopardize the cease-fire that has been in place since 1991 and dangerously threaten security and stability in the region. These irresponsible actions of the “polisario” constitute a challenge to the international community and an affront to the secretary-general and the Security Council.

The ambassador considers that the release of the secretary-general is clear and strong in its injunction to the “polisario” so as not to hinder, in any way, the freedom of civil and commercial movement, which constitutes a firm and categorical rejection of the provocations of the “polisario” and its impediments to free movement in the Guergarat buffer zone. Moreover, for Hilale, the secretary-general sent a direct and firm message to the “polisario” stating that “no action, which would change the status quo of the buffer zone, should be undertaken”. As a result, the presence of the “polisario” in Guergarat is illegal because it violates the agreements in force and tends to change the status of the area. Hence the obligation of the “polisario” to withdraw immediately and unconditionally, in order to return to the status quo of ante.

Hilale warned that the present maneuvers of the “polisario” desperately aim to recreate the same scenario of crisis as that of last March and April. The “polisario” thus shows amnesia, by forgetting that it was forced to withdraw its armed elements, following the threat of unequivocal condemnation of the Security Council and a summons of 15 days for comply.

The Moroccan ambassador deeply regrets that the repetition of this scenario is proof that the “polisario” and Algeria, which finances it, provides it with weapons and buys the pickups blocking the road to Guergarat, do not learn the lessons of their last April’s bitter failure.

Asked about the secretary-general’s statement regarding the link between the withdrawal of the “polisario” and the imperative of an environment conductive to the resumption of political dialogue, Hilale replied that the warning by Antonio Guterres is very important because the latter is aware that no political process is possible when the other parties opt for provocation and escalation. The Kingdom of Morocco, like the secretary-general and members of the Security Council, considers that the provocations of the “polisario” are contradictory to the current efforts of Köhler to revive the political process, said Hilale.

The ambassador of Morocco warned that no political process is possible as long as the other parties persist in their recurrent violations of the Military Agreements and cease-fire, as well as in their usual tactics of tension and crisis on the eve of the UN timetables. As the secretary-general’s release of this morning reminds us, the political process urgently needs an environment of serenity, calm and respect for the commitments made.

The Kingdom has honored its commitments since the crisis of last year, and has not undertaken any act affecting the status of the Guergarat buffer zone. It shows restraint as the secretary-general wishes. However, its patience has limits, he concluded.