UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon; visited the Sahrawi refugee camp in Algeria, as part of efforts to restart negotiations to end a dispute that has lasted for over three decades between Morocco and the Polisario Front group.
Ban, who met Polisario Front leaders including its Secretary General Mohamed Abdelaziz, said he would spare no effort in trying to find a solution to the dispute.
We should be able to provide for the self determination of the people of Western Sahara as the Security Council has been requesting since 2004
Polisario, backed by Algeria and a number of other African states, wants to hold a long-delayed referendum promised in the U.N. ceasefire deal on the region’s future.
However, Morocco wants Western Sahara, which is rich in phosphates and possibly offshore oil and gas, to be an autonomous part of Morocco and disagrees with Polisario over who should take part in the referendum.
Ban is in favor of the referendum but admitted that no progress has been made to find a lasting solution.
“The parties to the Western Sahara conflict have not made any real progress in the negotiations towards a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution. We should be able to provide for the self determination of the people of Western Sahara as the Security Council has been requesting since 2004, “ he said.
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.