The newly adopted UN Security Council Resolution on the Sahara highlights Morocco’s efforts to settle the Sahara conflict through the autonomy initiative and calls on the other parties, notably Algeria, to uphold their responsibility in settling the conflict, Morocco’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Omar Hilale said.
Speaking at a press conference following the unanimous adoption by the Security Council of the resolution, Hilale welcomed the renewal of the MINURSO’s mandate for another year expiring on April 30, 2018.
“Morocco welcomes the adoption of the Security Council resolution and expresses heartfelt thanks to the US penholder for elaborating such a negotiated text that was successfully adopted unanimously,” Hilale said.
He added that this resolution pays tribute to Morocco’s efforts to settle the artificial dispute over the Sahara and holds other parties responsible under international law.
The diplomat noted that the new text is in line with the UN Secretary General’s plan to relaunch the political process with a view to reaching a realistic solution with a spirit of compromise.
Resolution 2351 also highlights the pre-eminence and pertinence of Morocco’s autonomy initiative as a “unique solution to the Sahara issue,” stressed Hilale, adding that the text calls on neighbouring countries, notably Algeria, to bring a substantive contribution to the political process to settle the conflict.
Neighboring countries have a key role to play, he said, emphasizing that Algeria can no longer continue to shirk its responsibility to reach a political settlement of the regional dispute over the Sahara.
In this respect, Hilale highlighted that the text calls on Algeria to allow the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to conduct the census and registration of the population held in the Tindouf camps.
On relations with the MINURSO, Hilale made it clear that the full functionality of the UN mission in the Sahara has been fully restored after tensions simmered by the previous UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon, whose verbal blunders prompted Morocco to expel the civilian staff of the mission in March 2016.
Hilale also pointed out to the delay in the adoption of the resolution to allow for the Polisario’s pullback from the Guerguarat area in the buffer strip on the borders with Mauritania. He explained that the Separatists had to withdraw in order to avoid a condemnation by the Security Council and that the 2351 resolution continues to express concerns over the Polisario’s presence in the buffer zone.