President of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), Mr. Brahim Ghali, has confirmed that the recent report of the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, did not reflect the reality of the “worrying situation” in the occupied Western Sahara, calling for taking “serious and practical measures” to end the occupation in the last colony in Africa.
In a letter sent on Tuesday to UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the rotating President of the Security Council, Russian Ambassador in New York, Vasily Nebenzya, President Ghali stressed that the Polisario Front does not share the Secretary-General’s assessment of the general situation in the territory and in the Guerguerat region in particular as calm, because in fact the situation “is not calm at all”.
In his letter, Mr. Ghali wondered how the situation could be calm at a time when the Moroccan occupation authorities were intensifying their repressive and intimidating actions against Sahrawi civilians in occupied Western Sahara, under the continued illegal presence of the Moroccan army and its activities in the buffer strip in Guerguerat, which “pushes more tension in the region and seriously jeopardizes the ceasefire.”
As for the content of guterres’ report on the criticism expressed by the Polisario Front in relation to the MINURSO mission and the United Nations, the SADR president recalled in his message that this was justified, and “it is not related only to the lack of progress in the political process, as the Secretary-General says.”
He clarified that the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has not only failed in implementing the mandate for which it was established under Security Council Resolution 690 (1991), but it has also become a “passive spectator to Morocco’s expansionist actions aimed at consolidating and” normalizing” its illegal occupation of parts of Western Sahara by force.
Moreover, Brahim Ghali adds, the United Nations has repeatedly failed to act vigorously to put an end to Morocco’s deliberate attempts to undermine the mission’s mandate and limit it to monitoring the ceasefire, thus transforming the mission into a “fireman” and a tool to maintain the status quo.
For Mr. Ghali, “this situation which was completely unacceptable, among many other things prompted the Polisario Front to take its decision on October 30, 2019 to reconsider its participation in the entire United Nations peace process, stressing that as long as this situation exists, “the Polisario Front will not participate in any process that is not in line with the standards of mandate established by the Security Council for its implementation by the MINURSO mission in its decision 690 (1991).”
With regard to what Guterres raised about the relationship between the MINURSO mission and the Polisario Front, the Secretary-General of the Polisario Front emphasized that it is linked to the agreements reached with it in the context of implementing its mandate set by the Security Council.
Consequently, the Polisario Front, the President adds, cannot accept any dictates regarding where or how it will meet with the civilian and military leadership of the mission, and its position on this issue “is quite clear and well-founded.”
He added,”it is totally unacceptable that the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, the head of the Minurso mission, and other senior civilian and military officials of the mission will not be able to meet with the Polisario Front at any location within the territory’s borders, particularly in the liberated territories of Western Sahara administered by the Polisario Front, due to “the blackmail policy pursued by Morocco on this issue.
The SADR President, drew attention that the report of the UN Secretary-General did not mention that Morocco’s “systematic” violations of human rights in the occupied Western Sahara continue to “increase at an alarming rate”, and that the fate of dozens of Sahrawi prisoners and missing persons remains unknown, in addition to many people who were prevented from entering or expelled from the territory by the Moroccan occupation authorities.
He wondered why the mandate of MINURSO was not expanded to include a human rights component that would allow for independent, impartial, comprehensive and sustainable monitoring of the human rights situation in the mission area.
Regarding the “buffer zone as a demilitarized zone”, President Ghali clarified that, “the illegal breach in Guerguerat did not exist at the time of the entry into force of the ceasefire on September 6, 1991, nor did it exist when the Military Agreement No. 1 was signed between the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) and the Polisario Front on December 24, 1997, and between the MINURSO mission and Morocco on January 22, 1998.”
The Secretary-General of the Polisario Front recalled that the provisions of these agreements did not include the creation of breaches or crossing points for civilian or other activities along the Moroccan military wall. Also, the Moroccan breach has not been negotiated between the two parties, or between the two parties and the United Nations.
He stressed that the situation in Western Sahara, particularly in the occupied territories, remained unstable, “the political process is completely paralysed at a time when the Sahrawi people have lost confidence in the United Nations and its mission”, stressing that “the only way forward is to take serious and practical action to create the conditions for a free and fair referendum in which the Sahrawi people exercise their inalienable right to self-determination. (Sumoud)