Former UN mediator in Syria, Swedish Staffan de Mistura, is expected to be the new UN envoy for Western Sahara, replacing the German, Horst Kohler, who resigned from this post in 2019, a senior Sahrawi official told APS.
The proposed appointment of Staffan de Mistura is awaiting the approval of the two parties to the conflict, the Polisario Front and Morocco, said the same source.
If the UN Secretary-General’s proposal is accepted, de Mistura will be the fifth envoy of the UN organization for this non-autonomous territory.
The UN had appointed four mediators to try to resolve this forty-six-year-old conflict in vain. They were the two Americans James Baker and Christopher Ross, former German President Horst Kohler and Dutch Peter Van Walssun.
Recently, the UN SG, through his spokesman Stéphane Dujarric, said he was “determined” to continue his search for an envoy for Western Sahara, while acknowledging that “this is a complicated position for which it has always been a bit difficult to find the right person”.
But for the Polisario Front, the appointment of a new personal envoy is not “an end in itself,” asserting that his role is to “facilitate a vigorous and time-bound peace process that leads to the free and democratic exercise by the Saharawi people of their inalienable right to self-determination and independence. The new personal envoy must also enjoy the unanimous support of the Security Council, which will support him in his mediation mission.
Staffan De Mistura proposed by the UN SG to relaunch the peace process in Western Sahara, stopped since 2019, he was appointed in 2014 special envoy on the crisis in Syria.
He had assumed the role of facilitator for the peace talks in Syria, a position previously held by the Algerian Lakhdar Brahimi, who resigned in May and before him by Kofi Annan.
With two nationalities, Italian and Swedish, the 74-year-old diplomat has four decades of experience at the UN, in conflict-affected areas as well as in humanitarian agencies.
The former mediator had offered his good offices in Iraq and Afghanistan where he served as head of the UN missions in both countries.