After threatening to pull out of U.N. peacekeeping missions worldwide, Morocco on Thursday “decided not to withdraw its troops”.
Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar disclosed this despite Rabat’s anger and subsequent protests over comments by U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon about the disputed Western Sahara region.
According to the United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric, Morocco has asked 84 United Nations and African Union international civilian staff working in Western Sahara to leave within three days.
All of these measures would seriously impede the functioning of MINURSO (the U.N. Western Sahara mission).
This was immediately after the announced decision by Morocco to continue serving in United Nations missions.
Mr. Dujarric said about three of the people on the list submitted by the Moroccan mission to the United Nations were with the African Union and the rest were U.N. staff.
“All of these measures would seriously impede the functioning of MINURSO (the U.N. Western Sahara mission),” he added.
Morocco asks U.N. to remove 84 staffers from West Sahara mission: source https://t.co/LCwUwCtsUd— Reuters World (@ReutersWorld) March 17, 2016
U.N. political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman is due to brief the Security Council on the situation later on Thursday, Reuters reported.
The Western Sahara region has been a subject of dispute since 1975, when Morocco took over from colonial power Spain.
Morocco’s government lashed out at Ban Ki-moon for describing Moroccan relation to the Western Sahara as “occupation.”