Thursday, 21 September 2023
WorldThe UN special envoy for Western Sahara makes a surprise visit to...

The UN special envoy for Western Sahara makes a surprise visit to the territories occupied by Morocco

The UN envoy for Western Sahara, Staffan de Mistura, arrived this Monday in the capital of this territory, Laayounefrom Rabat, where he met with the Moroccan representative at the United Nations, Omar Hilale.

As reported by the UN in a note to the press, Staffan de Mistura will carry out “regional visits and meetings, which seek to engage all stakeholders ahead of the release of the secretary-general’s report to the Security Council in October.”

The UN adds that De Mistura “looks forward to continuing to deepen consultations with all stakeholders on the prospects of constructively advancing the political process in the Occidental Sahara in the course of these regional engagements” and indicates that he will report on his visits to the secretary general and the Security Council in October.

A Moroccan diplomatic source reported that, before landing in Western Sahara, De Mistura passed through Rabat, where he arrived from Paris on a commercial flight. In the Moroccan capital he met with omar hilaleaccording to the source.

According to the Flightradar24 flight tracking page, he landed in the capital of Western Sahara after 5:00 p.m. on a UN plane from Rabat.

Visit to the refugee camps in Tindouf

Mistura’s trip comes after the visit last weekend to the Sahrawi refugee camps of Tindouf, in Algeria, by the person in charge of US diplomacy for the Middle East and North Africa, Joshua Harris, where he met with the general secretary of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali.

Since his appointment in November 2021, the envoy has made a trip to the Sahara region in January 2022, in which he visited Rabat and the camps of the Polisario Front in Tindouf, but the next trip in July of that year, which had also been announced with stops in the territory of Western Sahara, ended after spending several days in Rabat.

Then, De Mistura told Morocco that he needed free rein to travel to Sahrawi territory and meet with whoever he deemed appropriate, but Rabat did not accept and preferred to cancel the visit.

The Polisario Front assures that Morocco has been “forced” to allow the visit of the envoy to the Sahara

The first visit of the UN envoy to Western Sahara to the disputed territory is a result of Morocco having been “forced” to allow him such a visit, according to the Polisario Front.

The Polisario representative to the UN, Sidi Mohamed Omar, recalled that already in July 2022 the envoy Staffan De Mistura was unable to carry out this visit by rejecting the “preconditions” that Morocco had placed on where to go and who to meet. in the Western Sahara that it administers, something that was confirmed in a report by the secretary general.

The Saharawi diplomat stressed that this time Morocco “has been forced and has had no other option than to let De Mistura continue his mission” to get the conflict out of the blockade in which it finds itself.

According to Omar, De Mistura’s visit “is not a gift from anyone”, but is due to “the firm position of the Polisario Front plus the struggle of the Saharawi people, and especially its human rights activists”.

The Saharawi representative said that he hopes that this first contact of De Mistura with the Saharawis of the territory will help him to learn first-hand about their situation of “oppression by the occupying power”, and in particular that of political prisoners and human rights activists. .

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