The United Nations Secretary General’s personal envoy for the Sahara, Horst Köhler invited all parties involved in the conflict, namely Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the Polisario to a second roundtable meeting in the Swiss city of Geneva on March 21-22.
The news was reported by several media outlets that quoted well-informed sources in Geneva.
According to these press reports, the second roundtable will take place behind closed doors, like the first roundtable, held in Geneva last December 5-6 and seeks to deepen the talks initiated then.
The UN Security Council has urged in its Resolution 2440, adopted on Oct. 29, 2018, Morocco, Algeria, the Polisario and Mauritania to work constructively with the personal envoy, in a spirit of compromise, throughout the process to ensure its success.
The Resolution had commended the stakeholders’ decision to accept the invitation to take part in the first roundtable meeting in Geneva and hailed again the relevance, seriousness and credibility of the Moroccan autonomy initiative.
The Moroccan delegation to the first roundtable was led by Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita and included the Permanent representative to the UN Omar Hilal, and elected representatives of the Moroccan Sahara Provinces, namely the chairman of the Laayoune-Sakia El Hamra Region Council, Hamdi Ould Errachid, and the president of the Dakhla-Oued Eddahab region, Ynja El Khattat.
At the end of these talks, Morocco conditioned its participation in Geneva II with the imperative to move the lines, in accordance with resolution 2440, putting forward the need to find a realistic and achievable political solution to the dispute.
Before setting the date for the Geneva II meeting, the UN Secretary General’s personal envoy had met separately the delegations of Morocco (FM Nasser Bourita, February 27 and 28 in Paris), of Algeria (then FM Abdelkader Messahel, March 2 in Frankfurt) and that of the separatist front (Khatri Adouh).
These separate informal meetings were part of the talks led by the UN envoy to prepare the second round of the quadripartite talks.
While the Moroccan delegation to the Geneva II roundtable will probably be led by Bourita, it is unclear who will lead the Algerian delegation after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika replaced Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel amidst continuous protests and calls for regime change.