UN: Security Council Crack the Whip over the Polisario

With a one-day delay over the initial schedule, the Security Council meeting on the Sahara was finally programmed for this Friday. The Council will vote on a resolution urging the Polisario to withdraw from the Guergarat buffer strip and demanding the resumption of the political process, taking into account the progress made since 2006. The progress resulted essentially from the autonomy plan proposed by Morocco.

This delay is explained by the last-minute pressure exerted by Russia to temper the firm tone of the resolution against the Polisario, which claims the independence of the Western Sahara, in the South of Morocco. Actually, the Security Council’s injunction had put the Algeria-backed Polisario in disarray.

The draft resolution is based on the report presented at the beginning of the month by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. This report is his first contact with the Sahara issue as UN Chief. In its initial wording, the draft resolution, drafted by the US presidency of the Security Council, called for the immediate and total withdrawal of Polisario elements from the Guergarat buffer zone.

The text spoke of “deep concern that elements of the Polisario Front remain in the buffer zone of Guergarat and in particular their obstruction of regular commercial traffic”. The text was all the more alarming for the separatists and their Algerian mentors that it also exacted the census of the Sahrawi populations living in the Polisario-run Tindouf camps in Algeria.

Besides the fact that the resolution authorizes the renewal of Minurso’s mandate for a further year, the content of the resolution is imbued with the new dynamics that the UN Secretary-General seems willing to instill in this four-decade long issue.

The Sahara issue had reached a dead end because of the recklessness of the former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the stubbornness of his personal envoy, the American Christopher Ross.

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