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Sahara: UN Secretary-General Commends Morocco’s Commitment to Ceasefire and MINURSO Cooperation

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed Morocco’s commitment to upholding the ceasefire and adhering to the provisions of the military agreements governing the Sahara dispute in his report on the situation in the Sahara, issued October 3.

With the expiration of the MINURSO mandate coming up on October 31, the report covers developments that have occurred since the issuance of the previous report in October 2022 and describes the situation on the ground, the status of political negotiations, the implementation of Resolution 2654 (2022), and the existing challenges to the Mission’s operations and steps taken to address them.

Guterres commended Morocco’s close cooperation with MINURSO at all levels. He highlighted the resumption of MINURSO’s ground patrols in areas adjacent to the berm, accompanied by the Royal Armed Forces (FAR), which has enhanced the Mission’s ability to independently assess reported firing incidents.

Additionally, he mentioned the growing international support for Morocco’s Autonomy Plan, noting Israel’s decision to open a consulate in Dakhla.

Guterres remarked that the UN Personal Envoy had visited Laayoune and Dakhla in September 2023, where he met with numerous Moroccan officials and locally elected representatives who expressed their support for the Moroccan autonomy proposal and acknowledged the significant development efforts undertaken by Morocco.

The Secretary-General also noted that MINURSO’s military leadership had visited the Moroccan Army Southern Zone headquarters in Agadir in September 2022 and July 2023. At the working level, three meetings took place between the military component of MINURSO and the Royal Moroccan Army, one in Laayoune in November 2022 and two in Agadir in December 2022 and January 2023.

Guterres asserted that the “role of neighbouring States remains crucial in the achievement of a solution to the question of Sahara” and that “the deteriorated relations between Algeria and Morocco continue to be of concern.” He encouraged both countries “to re-establish dialogue to mend their relations and renew efforts aimed at regional cooperation, including with a view to establishing an environment conducive to peace and security.”

Guterres said that the United Nations remains available to advance the search for a peaceful solution. “I urge them to approach the political process with an open mind, to desist from preconditions and to seize the opportunity provided by my Personal Envoy’s facilitation and efforts,” he said.