MINURSO Sticks to Practice to Meet Polisario in Rabouni, Algeria – UN Spokesperson

MINURSO Sticks to Practice to Meet Polisario in Rabouni, Algeria – UN Spokesperson

The UN mission to the Sahara, MINURSO, adheres with the longstanding practice of holding meetings with the Polisario in Rabouni, Algeria, said UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

Speaking to reporters at the daily briefing Thursday, Dujarric said that since the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Colin Stewart, took over his duties at the head of the MINURSO, in late December 2017, he “has preferred to adhere with the longstanding practice of holding such meetings (with the Polisario) in Rabouni, Algeria”.

The contacts of the MINURSO and its chief Colin Stewart with the Polisario are held outside of the Mission area, the spokesperson said.

Earlier reports said that the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative had refused to meet Polisario members at Bir Lahlou, east of the security berm, as requested by the leaders of the front.

The Algeria-backed separatists were trying through their manoeuvers to snatch a recognition from the UN and the international community that they control the buffer zone.

During the Thursday briefing, Stephane Dujarric also revealed that Polisario militiamen have fired warning shots at members of the MINURSO, who were conducting a patrol east of the Morocco-built security wall in the demilitarized area.

The MINURSO confirmed that on April 16 they were fired at and intercepted by the Polisairo armed men in an incident that further vindicates Morocco’s concerns regarding the polisairo’s serious violations of the UN-brokered ceasefire agreement.

He said that the MINURSO members were later allowed to continue their patrol and that Polisario leadership acknowledged the incident and apologized to the UN mission.

The Polisario had previously announced that it will set up military and civilian facilities in Bir Lahlou in a bid to acquire the attributes of a state, a move that is a casus belli for Morocco.

Morocco has threatened to intervene militarily if the UN fails to compel the Polisairo to uphold the ceasefire agreement and the status of the area east of the security wall.

Morocco had handed this part of the Moroccan Sahara to the UN for ceasefire monitoring purposes pending a lasting solution to the regional conflict.

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