Efforts by the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon to resolve the conflict in Western Sahara have been dealt a blow by Morocco.
The Moroccan government has expressed its reservations over comments made by the UN Chief that “no real progress” has been made by Morocco and the Polisario independence movement to end the conflict.
A statement from the government of the north African country described Ban’s comments as containing “verbal excesses and unjustified complacency.”
Ban Ki-moon visited a Sahrawi camp run by the UN in Algeria at the weekend and has asked his special envoy to Western Sahara to relaunch talks between Rabat and the separatist Polisario Front. This follows his comments that the two parties have made no real progress in negotiations aimed at bringing about an “acceptable solution to all.”
The UN has expressed its preparedness to organise a referendum if the two sides fail to reach a consensus.
The referendum initiative has been supported by Algeria but Morocco is against moves to grant the former Spanish colony independence.
The UN has been trying to oversee an independence referendum for Western Sahara since 1992 after a ceasefire was reached to end a war that broke out when Morocco sent its forces to the former Spanish territory in 1975.