The king of MoroccoMohammed VI, and the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, spoke on Wednesday of the thorny file of the Western Sahara, stalled, during a rare meeting in Rabat, said the royal cabinet and the UN. The Cherifian monarch received Antonio Guterres at the royal palace in Rabat on the sidelines of a forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) organized in Fez (north-eastern Morocco). During the interview, Mohammed VI “reaffirmed the constant position of Morocco for the settlement of this regional dispute on the basis of the “autonomy initiative”, within the framework of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the kingdom”according to a royal press release.
The UN has confirmed that “the Secretary-General and His Majesty discussed the situation in the region and, in particular, Western Sahara”, without further details. The low-intensity Western Sahara conflict has pitted Morocco against the Sahrawi separatists of the Polisario Front, supported by Algiers, for more than 40 years. Rabat, which controls nearly 80% of this former Spanish colony, advocates a plan for autonomy under its sole sovereignty. The Polisario, for its part, is calling for a self-determination referendum under the aegis of the UN which had been planned when a ceasefire was signed in 1991 but never materialized. This ceasefire was shattered in November 2020.
At the end of October, the UN Security Council called on the “parts” to the conflict at “resume negotiations” to allow a solution “sustainable and mutually acceptable”. A year ago, Antonio Guterres appointed Italian-Swedish diplomat Staffan de Mistura as his personal envoy for Western Sahara in an attempt to revive the deadlocked political process. Staffan de Mistura has since traveled to the region several times to meet the various actors. But in his recently published annual report, Antonio Guterres said “deeply concerned about the development of the situation”. Mohammed VI reiterated on Wednesday “the kingdom’s support for the efforts of the Secretary General and his personal envoy”, said the royal cabinet. Morocco considers the issue of Western Sahara as its main “national cause” and “the prism through which it views its international environment”.
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