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De Mistura arrives in Rabat to relaunch the dialogue on Western Sahara

De Mistura arrives in Rabat to relaunch the dialogue on Western Sahara

July 2 () –

The UN Secretary General’s envoy for Western Sahara, Staffan de Mistura, arrived in Rabat this Saturday on a working visit to relaunch the dialogue on the former Spanish colony.

De Mistura was received by Moroccan officials upon his arrival at the Rabat-Salé International Airport from Paris, according to the Moroccan news portal Le360.

This trip is not framed as on other occasions in a tour of the region and focuses solely on Morocco. De Mistura will hold a series of meetings, including an appointment with the Moroccan Foreign Minister, Nasser Bourita, and will visit the capital of the former Spanish province, El Aaiún.

The objective is to initiate a new dialogue process with a view to achieving a political and negotiated solution to the conflict, a trip that was initially planned for May, but was delayed. De Mistura had also recently suspended his activities after contracting the COVID-19 virus.

Staffan de Mistura was appointed to his position by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, in November 2021. He then made his first tour of the region with stops in Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria and Tindouf, in southwestern Algeria, where the Saharawi refugees who fled the area after the Moroccan invasion are settled.

The former Spanish colony of Western Sahara was occupied by Morocco in 1975 despite resistance from the Polisario Front. The 1991 ceasefire was signed with a view to holding a self-determination referendum, but differences over the preparation of the census and the inclusion or not of Moroccan settlers have so far prevented it from being called.

In addition, the Polisario has considered the 1992 ceasefire broken after the eviction of Saharawi activists from the Guerguerat border crossing with Mauritania by Moroccan military forces in November 2020. Rabat considers the area between the post and the border with Mauritania as ‘ no man’s land’, while the Polisario Front considers it its own territory.

The latest twist in the dispute is the explicit support of the Spanish Government for the autonomy plan proposed by Morocco for consultation between the Saharawi and Moroccan populations living in the territory.

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Written by Editor TLN

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