UN Personal Envoy Horst Köhler Wants to Relaunch Talks on Sahara

The Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the Sahara, Horst Köhler, looks forward to relaunching talks on the Sahara in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2414, say U.S. press reports.

The last round of UN-brokered negotiations on the issue was held in 2012. The Former UN envoy for the Sahara failed to settle this regional dispute due to the intransigent stand of the Algeria-backed Polisario front.

Six years after the suspension of Sahara talks, UN Security Council adopted end of April 2018 resolution 2414, which stressed the need to “make progress in the search for a realistic, pragmatic and sustainable political solution to the Sahara issue”.

The text also called on neighboring countries, namely Algeria and Mauritania, “to make an important contribution to the political process and to engage further in the negotiations” with the aim of “reaching a mutually acceptable political solution”, conducive to regional integration in the Maghreb and to regional peace and stability.

On Wednesday, Köhler briefed the UN Security Council on his second tour in the Maghreb that led him to Algeria, Mauritania and Morocco in a bid to revive the negotiations on the Sahara.

After holding closed-door consultations, President of the Council, British ambassador Jonathan Allen said the UN Envoy wants to move forward the UN-led political process by convening fresh talks.

According to the British envoy, Horst Köhler, a former German president and ex-director of the IMF, “got a lot of support from the council for his approach and for his proposal to try and see if he can bring the parties together by the end of the year”.

In his briefing at the Security Council, Köhler thanked Morocco for facilitating his trip to the southern provinces wherein he met with local MPs, dignitaries and civil society activists.

According to diplomatic sources at the UN, the majority of the Council members urged the German UN Envoy for the Sahara to continue working and interacting with all parties to maintain the momentum to resume the UN-sponsored process.

They also renewed their full support to the Moroccan autonomy plan described as a serious and credible solution to the regional dispute.

The Council members praised the efforts made by Morocco to promote the political empowerment and enhance the socioeconomic development of the southern provinces.

In Rabat, Moroccan authorities hailed the support voiced by the UN Security Council to the Moroccan autonomy initiative, while insisting on the role of Algeria as “main party responsible for the start and perpetuation of this dispute”.

“No settlement of the Sahara issue is possible outside the full sovereignty of Morocco over its Sahara, nor outside the autonomy initiative that the international community has recognized as serious and credible,” they stressed.

The UN is pushing for a political solution to this long-standing dispute, convinced that the settlement of the Sahara issue will boost cooperation between Maghreb countries and lead to stability, economic prosperity and security in the region and in the Sahel.

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