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On W. Sahara, UN Won't Confirm Got Polisario Letter, Statement Here

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 4 -- The UN of Ban Ki-moon, which gave in to Morocco's demand to pull out 83 members of its MINURSO mission in Western Sahara and has yet to get most of the returned, is now proposing to given in further, sources exclusively told Inner City Press on September 8.

On September 22, when Inner City Press asked Morocco's foreign minister Salaheddine Mezouar about MINURSO it was told it is already “fully functional."

But when Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq how many of the 83 expelled staff are back, the answer was only 25. And still no answer on, or even confirmation of receipt of, POLISARIO's September 26 letter to Ban Ki-moon. So for now we publish this, Mohamed Salem Ould-Salak, Head  of Foreign Relations of the Frente Polisario:
1.     For over forty years, Morocco has illegally occupied a significant portion of Western Sahara, a Non-Self Governing Territory (NSGT), still awaiting a process of decolonization. And for over twenty-five years, Morocco has systematically reneged on agreements signed, including the OAU/UN Settlement Plan endorsed by the UN Security Council, and has hindered all efforts by the international community to secure the decolonization of Western Sahara and the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people.
2.     Morocco has shown, beyond any doubt, that it is unwilling to choose the peaceful, democratic and viable path to a lasting solution for Western Sahara. In fact, King Mohamed VI’s statements on 6 November 2014 that ‘Morocco will remain part of its Sahara, and the Sahara will remain part of Morocco until the end of time’, are public confirmations of Morocco’s unwillingness to respect the status of Western Sahara as a NSGT. The King’s statements reinforce Morocco’s unilateral declaration of ‘sovereignty’ over a territory that the UN continues to consider a NSGT awaiting a process of decolonization, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV).
3.     After having continuously obstructed the referendum process, repressed the Saharawi population in the occupied territories, and denigrated the Secretary-General, Morocco expelled 84 civilians and 3 military MINURSO personnel in March 2016. This action was a challenge to the authority of the Security Council, a brazen attempt to shut down the UN’s role in Western Sahara, a direct violation of a number of Morocco’s legal obligations related to MINURSO’s presence in Western Sahara, a dangerous precedent for the future of UN peacekeeping missions, and a direct threat to regional peace and security.
4.     Then on 11 August 2016, in an effort to impose a fait accompli, Morocco violated Military Agreement no.1 signed with MINURSO by the two parties, the Frente POLISARIO and Morocco, when its army crossed into the restricted zone in the El Guerguerat area with the purpose of building a paved road through the Saharawi Territory on the border of Mauritania. This action, if not reversed, could undermine the most sensitive pillar that has thus far allowed for maintaining a peaceful situation on the ground, namely the ceasefire agreement.
5.     The Security Council met to discuss the situation in El Guerguerat on 26th August but did not discharge its responsibility to reaffirm the integrity of the ceasefire agreement. In order to prevent the ceasefire agreement from being violated with impunity, the Frente POLISARIO deployed its special forces at a two kilometers distance from the Moroccan forces. The Security Council then met on 11 September to again discuss the situation, and failed again in its responsibilities. Following a letter from President Ghali to the SG on 26th September informing that Morocco has continued to build the road across the berm, and that Moroccan military aircraft had been flying over the area, despite the UN presence and the call from the SG to show restraint and to respect the ceasefire agreement, the Council met yet again on 29 September and France again prevented the Council from taking any action on the situation. The Council’s silence threatens regional stability on a continent already contending with a number of fragile conflicts, and its inaction is quick becoming a failure in conflict prevention.
6.     The political space for Morocco’s actions has been created by the failure of the Security Council to directly oversee the ‘UN political process’, despite warnings contained in the SG’s statement on 4 November 2015 that negotiations based on the parties’ 2007 proposals are effectively dead. And  the hesitation of the Council to respond swiftly and decisively to both the MINURSO crisis and the El Guerguerat incursion reinforced Morocco’s view that its defiance will not be countered.
7.     This is further evident from the fact that Security Council resolution 2285 adopted on 29 April 2016, which emphasizes the ‘urgent’ need for MINURSO to return to ‘full functionality’, and which stresses the need for the parties to continue the negotiation process through UN sponsored talks, is yet to be implemented. In fact, Morocco continues to refuse PESG Ross from traveling to Rabat to ‘kick off’ a fifth round of negotiations, on the pretense of Morocco holding parliamentary elections in October 2016, in which Morocco want to include Western Sahara occupied territories. We condemn this inclusion and we consider it an illegal act that violates the legal status of of Western Sahara.
8.     The primary and direct result of Morocco’s obstruction over the last twenty-five years, and indeed its most recent actions, has placed the political process in a dangerous impasse and has placed the ceasefire under serious threat. The ceasefire cannot be sustained indefinitely in the absence of a meaningful political process. The breakdown of the cease-fire would have serious consequences for the stability and security of the Maghreb region whose flank, Sahel-Mali-Libya, is already shaken by instability and an increasing presence of extremist, terrorist, and criminal elements.
9.     In regards to developments in the African Union as it relates to Morocco’s intention to join the AU, it should be recognized that any country intending to accede to the AU must fulfill the requirements of the AU Constitutive Act and commit to upholding and respecting the principles therein, including respect for borders as inherited the day of independence from colonial rule, and for the right to self-determination. In this regard, the Frente POLISARIO and the Saharawi Government look on with interest as to whether Morocco will indeed comply with the AU Constitutive Act and thereby uphold and respect the borders of Western Sahara and the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people. The colonization and occupation of one African country by another is contrary to all that the AU is founded on and stands for.
10.  In regards to developments in the European Union as it relates to Morocco’s plundering of Western Sahara’s natural resources, the Frente POLISARIO welcomes the judgment of the EU Court of Justice (CJEU) to annul the EU-Morocco trade and agricultural agreements as it does not apply to Western Sahara. Similarly, the Frente POLISARIO welcomes the legal opinion of the Advocate General of the CJEU that reaffirmed that Western Sahara is not part of Morocco and, as a result, agreements with Morocco that includes Western Sahara has no standing. In this regard, the Frente POISARIO calls upon the EU to respect the decisions of its own institutions, uphold international law, and stop being complicit in Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara.         
11.  The Saharawi people have fully trusted the UN for over twenty-five years, and have collaborated with UN processes with loyalty, patience, generosity and flexibility, despite all the injustices that they continue to endure from their aggressor, Morocco. The status quo is thus seen as a failure of the UN to keep its promise to the people of Western Sahara to undergo a process of decolonization via a self-determination referendum. Maintaining the status quo would result in grave consequences for the Saharawi people, the region and the African continent.


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