Ban Ki Moon pushes for negotiated settlement in Western Sahara

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Sunday he has asked his envoy for Western Sahara to work to relaunch talks between Morocco and the Algeria-backed Polisario Front on the disputed desert territory.

The secretary general made the announcement in Algiers, the main supporter of the Polisario Front which is demanding Western Sahara’s independence from Morocco, and also voiced concern over the situation in neighbouring Libya.

He told reporters he had asked special envoy Christopher Ross to resume visits to the region in a bid to relaunch talks between Rabat and the Polisario Front and seek an end to the 40-year conflict.

The United Nations has been trying to broker a Western Sahara settlement since 1991 after a ceasefire was reached to end a war that broke out when Morocco deployed its military in the former Spanish territory in 1975.

Local Sahrawi people are campaigning for the right to self-determination, but Morocco considers the territory as part of the kingdom and insists its sovereignty cannot be challenged.

Ban, who toured Burkina-Faso, Mauritania and a camp in Algeria for refugees from Western Sahara, said Morocco and the Polisario Front had failed to make “real progress” towards an “acceptable” solution.

He said he would soon call a meeting of donor nations and organisations to raise funds for the refugees — around 200,000 of whom live in camps in Algeria.



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