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Date of posting : October 11, 2020

UN Chief Reaffirms that Situation in Moroccan Sahara Remains ‘Calm’

In a report submitted to the General Assembly, the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, reaffirmed that the situation in the Moroccan Sahara remains “calm”, once again cutting short the fallacious allegations of the separatists on the situation in the Southern Provinces of the Kingdom.

In this document, which covers the period from July 1, 2019 to August 31, 2020 and summarizes the last two reports presented to the Security Council by the Secretary-General on the situation in the Moroccan Sahara, Guterres also highlights the Moroccan investments in its Southern Provinces, citing, in particular, the construction of a new port about 70 kilometers north of Dakhla.

Thus, as attested by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Morocco’s investments in its Sahara are continuing and increasing, particularly since the launch by HM King Mohammed VI of the New Development Model of the Southern Provinces in November 2015.

This economic boom in the Moroccan Sahara is accompanied by the strengthening of the full sovereignty of Morocco over its Southern Provinces, through the adoption of two laws updating the limits of the Kingdom’s territorial waters and including the coasts of the Moroccan Sahara. This major fundamental development has been mentioned by the UN chief who has highlighted it in this report: “on January 22, the Moroccan House of Representatives adopted two laws updating the limits of its territorial waters and its exclusive economic zone which included the waters off the coast of the Sahara “.

The document also mentions the historic inaugurations of the Consulates General by ten African countries in the cities of Laayoune and Dakhla. In this regard, Mr. Guterres noted that “between December 18, 2019 and March 12, 2020, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia and São Tomé and Príncipe have inaugurated general consulates in Laayoune or Dakhla”.

Indeed, the opening of these African diplomatic representations in the Moroccan Sahara is the illustration of the Royal vision to turn the Southern Provinces into a link between Morocco and its African extension. They also constitute the confirmation of the recognition by the international community, particularly the African countries, of the sovereignty of Morocco over its Southern Provinces.

Referring, moreover, to the political process, the UN Chief reaffirmed the fundamentals of the political solution to this regional dispute, as advocated by the Security Council in all its resolutions since 2007.

He stressed that the Security Council is examining the situation concerning the Moroccan Sahara “within the framework of issues relating to peace and security”, under Chapter VI of the UN Charter relating to the peaceful settlement of dispute.

He added that the Council calls, in its successive resolutions, for “a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution”, adding that “on October 30, 2019, the Security Council adopted resolution 2494 through which it underlined the “need to achieve a political, realistic, pragmatic, lasting and compromise-based solution” to the Moroccan Sahara issue. This resolution enshrined, like all those adopted since 2007, the preeminence of the Autonomy Initiative as the only solution to the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara.

This resolution, and those which preceded it, also established Algeria’s role as the main party to the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara, being cited five times in this resolution, along with Morocco.

Mr. Guterres also highlighted the political momentum created by the round table process launched by the former Personal Envoy, Horst Köhler, with the participation of all stakeholders in the Moroccan Sahara issue, and which constitutes the only way for the continuation of the exclusively UN-led political process.

In this regard, he noted that “the Personal Envoy Horst Köhler was able to restore a dynamic and a much needed momentum to the political process, in particular through the process of round tables which brought together Morocco, the polisario, Algeria and Mauritania”, insisting” that it is essential that the continuity of this political process is not lost and reiterating his commitment for the appointment of a new Personal Envoy to build on the progress made in the roundtable process.

The UN Secretary General also recalled the fundamentals of the Moroccan position on the issue of the Moroccan Sahara. To this end, Mr. Guterres devoted a passage of his report to the Royal Speech of November 6, 2019, on the occasion of the 44th anniversary of the glorious Green March, noting that HM King Mohammed VI underlined that Morocco “will continue to work honestly and in good faith to achieve a political, realistic, practical and consensual solution based exclusively on the political approach adopted by the United Nations Organization and the relevant Security Council resolutions”.

The UN chief also underlined that His Majesty the King “added that the 2007 Moroccan Autonomy proposal is the only way forward towards a settlement guaranteeing full respect for the Kingdom’s national unity and territorial integrity.”

In another passage, Mr. Guterres said that the Sovereign also reaffirmed, in the Throne Speech delivered on July 29, 2019, Morocco’s commitment to the political process in the Moroccan Sahara, under the exclusive aegis of the UN, and underlined that no settlement was possible outside the full sovereignty of Morocco and outside the autonomy initiative.

On the other hand, Antonio Guterres welcomed Morocco’s full cooperation with MINURSO.

In fact, the Secretary General expressed his full satisfaction with regard to cooperation with the Royal Armed Forces (FAR), in particular for the excellent level of exchanges within the framework of the bilateral working and coordination mechanism which brings together the FAR and MINURSO, and which made it possible to resolve a significant number of outstanding issues.

The UN Secretary-General highly praised Morocco’s cooperation with MINURSO during the difficult period of the Covid-19 pandemic. Thanks to the measures adopted by the Moroccan authorities, “no case has been reported among MINURSO personnel,” he noted.

Regarding the situation of human rights, the UN Secretary-General once again slammed the leaders of the “polisario” for the serious and systematic violations of human rights in the Tindouf camps in Algeria.

Mr. Guterres, thus, enumerated the several reports received by the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), concerning the massive and large-scale recourse, by the “Polisario”, to “harassment, arrests and ill-treatment of bloggers, doctors and nurses” in the Tindouf camps.

The report underlines that these serious violations have increased over the past few months against all those “working to record COVID-19 cases in the Tindouf camps.” This new wave of repression led by the “polisario” is just a recent example of the massive and continuous violations by this armed separatist group, to silence the voices of dissidents, bloggers, journalists, activists and anyone who is against the despotism of its leaders.

These violations have, this time, targeted the medical profession and human rights activists who have only exposed the falsifications of the information of the “polisario” about the COVID-19 pandemic, and denounced its alarming spread among the populations held against their will in the Tindouf camps, and who are deprived of any protection and freedom of movement, movement, association, expression and assembly.

In this document, the UN chief alerted the General Assembly, in a firm and determined manner, to the multiple violations of the ceasefire, of the Military Agreements and of the Security Council resolutions committed by the “polisario”.

During the period covered by the report, the UN chief reported a serious escalation in violations committed by the armed separatist group.

In fact, in his last report submitted to the Security Council earlier this month, the Secretary General noted 57 major violations by the separatists, as well as more than 1,000 individual violations.

These are unprecedented figures in the history of the United Nations. In addition to their number, the seriousness of these violations is also unprecedented, calling on the separatist group to resolve them immediately.

Mr. Guterres also refers to the violations and provocations by the “Polisario” and its convicts in the buffer zone of Guergarate, by maintaining the presence of armed elements there and by blocking the passage between Morocco and Mauritania.

These violations constitute a challenge to the authority of the Secretary General of the United Nations who has, on many occasions, including on September 27, 2020, called on the “polisario” to respect the freedom of movement of goods and people in the region of Guergarate. In its resolutions N° 2414, 2440, 2468 and 2494, the Security Council had expressed its concerns about the presence of the separatist armed group in the buffer zone of Guergarate and demanded its immediate withdrawal.