Sahara: Horst Köhler bogged down in nebulous consultations

The bumpy start of the mission of the UN Personal Envoy for the Sahara, Horst Köhler, raises more and more fears about the fate of the negotiations process, which is likely to get bogged down even before it starts.

After a series of meetings with officials in Europe, at the level of the African Union, then in Berlin, the UN mediator seems to constantly widen the circle of his consultations without any guarantee as to their effectiveness.

Besides, this approach is not to the liking of Morocco, which considers that the Sahara issue must be dealt with exclusively at the level of the UN Security Council.

Morocco’s position is particularly justified by the fact that the AU has recognized the Sahrawi Republic (SADR), an entity that was hastily self-proclaimed in 1976 by the Polisario and Boumediene’s Algeria, with the blessing of Libya’s Gaddafi. And in this case, the UA is likely to be both judge and jury.

Above all, Morocco demands that Algeria be fully involved in the negotiation process, since Algeria was at the origin of the creation of the Polisario armed movement and since it continues to fund it and to house its HQ in Tindouf, in Algerian territory.

That is why Morocco is relying on the UN Security Council, which, before naming Köhler last August, had passed a resolution in April urging the parties to resume negotiations to reach “a political solution”.

In that same resolution, the Security Council had stressed the need for the parties to show “realism” and a spirit of “compromise”. The UN body also asked the stakeholders to take into account the progress made since 2007, when Morocco presented the autonomy plan for the Sahara.

The international community considers the Morocco-proposed plan a “serious and credible” basis for a solution to the Sahara, but Algeria and the Polisario refuse to adopt the same stance.


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