Consolidating the status quo is not an acceptable outcome to the current process of negotiations over Western Sahara, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in his latest report on the long-running dispute between Morocco and the Frente Polisario.
Mr. Ban writes that while he welcomes the two parties’ commitment – outlined in a communiqué last month – to continue their negotiations, so far there was no sign of any breakthrough in the dispute.
“Momentum can only be maintained by trying to find a way out of the current political impasse through realism and a spirit of compromise from both parties,” he states, in the first report issued since UN-led talks were held in Manhasset, New York, last month.
Mr. Ban recommends that the Security Council stress to both Morocco and the Frente Polisario that they enter into “a more intensive and substantive phase of negotiations” without any preconditions.
He also voices concern about the humanitarian situation of the Western Saharan refugees, many of whom have been living in camps in the Tindouf area of neighbouring Algeria for years.
“I am particularly pleased that Morocco and the Frente Polisario have agreed at the talks held at Manhasset… to explore the establishment of family visits by land, in addition to the existing programme by air. This has the potential to significantly increase the number of beneficiaries able to visit their relatives from whom they have been separated for so long.”
He also notes the recent progress made in clearing mines and explosive remnants of war in Western Sahara.
Morocco holds that its position over Western Sahara should be recognized, while the Frente Polisario contends that the Territory’s final status should be decided in a referendum that includes independence as an option.
The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has been in place since 1991 to monitor the ceasefire between the two sides.
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