Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ann Linde, expressed her country’s deep concern about the recent developments in the Guerguerat region in Western Sahara, stressing that the Swedish government fully supports the efforts of the United Nations to calm down the situation and organize the referendum as the only means to ensure the free expression of the Sahrawi people as stipulated in international resolutions.
In response to a question by Deputy Lotta Johnsson Fornarve, the Swedish chief of diplomacy said that “the referendum scheduled to be held to determine the final status of Western Sahara has not yet taken place,” stressing the need of “resuming the political process supervised by the United Nations”.
Linde broached her ministry’s recent report on human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Western Sahara, published in June 2020, which, she said, referred to human rights violations in the region “especially against advocates for the self-determination of the Sahrawi people,” which was confirmed by the United Nations on arbitrary arrests of Sahrawi militants demanding the right to self-determination and the sentencing of Sahrawi journalists to prison for their coverage of demonstrations.
In this regard, the Swedish Foreign Minister added that “the existing dialogue at the European level with Morocco considers democracy and human rights among the important components, and this was raised in 2019.”
The minister said, “Her country believes that human rights monitoring should be included in the mandate of the MINURSO mission,” noting that “Sweden has contributed during its membership in the Security Council to many resolutions regarding the mission and other issues such as the humanitarian situation in the Sahrawi refugee camps, strengthening cooperation between the two parties and the United Nations Office for Human Rights, and the inclusion of women in the political process.
As for whether Sweden is in contact with Spain regarding its responsibility in Western Sahara as the former colonial power, the minister said, “Sweden has an ongoing dialogue with Spain’s representatives about the situation in Western Sahara, especially in the United Nations, where the Swedish position is clear in this regard.”
She also stressed that “Stockholm, while reiterating its continued support for the work of the United Nations aimed at achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable negotiated solution that guarantees the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination, considers it extremely necessary to appoint an envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to resume the political process.”
For her part, Swedish Member of Parliament Lotta Johnsson Fornarve stressed – in her comment on the Swedish Foreign Minister’s response – that “the recent developments and the reasons that led to the collapse of the ceasefire are directly attributable to the apparent failure of the United Nations and the Security Council to impose the organization of the self-determination referendum”.