Western Sahara: UN Envoy’s new tour practically fruitless

ross-visiteChristopher Ross has just started a new tour in the Maghreb countries involved in the Western Sahara issue, but without much hope to succeed to break the opposition of the Polisario and Algeria to the Morocco-proposed autonomy plan for Western Sahara which is backed by several major Western capitals.

So, the UN mediator realized at the start of his tour Monday when he visited Algiers and was received by President Bouteflika that he made no progress whatsoever. At his coming meeting with the Polisario leaders, Christopher Ross will surely have the same feeling of failure since the separatist front’s position faithfully mirrors the position of Algeria.

Actually Algiers remains fundamentally hostile to a solution based on the autonomy plan, despite the dissenting voices that are being raised within the Algerian political class, comments a source from the Polisario headquarters in the Tindouf camps, in Algeria.

The outcry that followed the remarks of the leader of the ruling FLN party, Amar Saadani, evidenced if need be that the issue of support to the Polisario in Algeria is a red line that cannot be crossed with impunity, according to the same source. Even the unexpected statement of the general secretary of the Workers’ Party, Louisa Hanoune, is not likely to shake the nomenklatura and the powerful DRS. Aggravating circumstance for the Workers’ Party leader: she called President Bouteflika “to start by healing Moroccan-Algerian relations.”

Such calls will not dissuade the Algerian regime from ignoring the Security Council numerous resolutions, calling on the parties concerned to resume negotiations with “realism and a spirit of compromise,” says the same source.

Caught in this spiral, the UN mediator is unable to relaunch negotiations for a political settlement of a conflict that is poisoning relations between Morocco and Algeria and putting at stake the whole region.

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