New MINURSO Chief Meets Moroccan Officials in Rabat

The new special representative of the UN Secretary General for the Sahara and Head of the MINURSO, Colin Stewart, held separate meetings in Rabat on Friday with Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Nasser bourita, and of the Interior, Abdelouafi Laftit.
The contents of talks between Colin Stewart and Foreign Min-ister Bourita were not disclosed.

During his meeting with Colin Stewart, the Interior Minister assured him that Moroccan authorities will grant him all sup-port needed to carry out his mission and reiterated that the Kingdom will continue to back the MINURSO in fulfilling its mandate, reported the news agency MAP.

Laftit also reiterated Moroccan authorities’ warning against the Polisario’s continued provocative actions in the buffer zone and, particularly, in El Guergarate. The consequences of such provocations could undermine peace and security in the region and hinder the negotiation process to reach a solution to the artificial conflict over the Moroccan Sahara, MAP added.

Stewart commended the welcome he received in Morocco and stressed his commitment to continue efforts to comply with the military agreements and bring back the status quo in El Guergarate region, in accordance with the UN Secretary-General’s call on January 6, 2018.

After the Algerian-sponsored separatist group deployed mili-tiamen in the buffer zone that is supposed to remain demilita-rized under the UN brokered 1991 ceasefire agreement, Mo-rocco had Strongly Condemned the Polisario’s Breach of the Ceasefire Agreement in the buffer strip and informed the UN Secretary General and the Security Council of the detrimental impact of these irresponsible acts on the political process.

The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, responded im-mediately, warning the Polisario against obstructing commer-cial traffic flow between Morocco and Mauritania and calling on the separatisy front to retreat from the area.

“Regular civilian and commercial traffic should not be obstructed and no action should be taken, which may constitute a change to the status quo of the Buffer Strip,” Guterres had said in a statement.

The UN Secretary-General had underlined the need for a withdrawal of Polisario armed men from Guerguarat in order to create an environment conducive to the resumption of dialogue under the auspices of his Personal Envoy Horst Kohler.

In this connection, Horst Kohler held earlier this week in Brussels talks with head of European diplomacy, Federica Mogherini.
Mogherini assured her UN interlocutor of the European Union’s support for the UN efforts to “find a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution to the conflict” of the Sahara, in accordance with Security Council resolutions and in particular resolution 2351, adopted end of April 2017, a EU statement said.

Horst Köhler met on Friday (Jan.12) in Addis Ababa chairman of the African Union Commission, Chadian Moussa Faki Mahamat.

He had earlier met in Kigali Rwanda’s Paul Kagame who is to take over the AU chairmanship at the AU summit at the end of January.

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