New UN envoy appointed after green signal from Morocco

After a refusal in May and following strong pressure from the United States and France, Morocco finally agreed to appoint Italian-Swedish diplomat Staffan de Mistura as the new envoy to Western Sahara, a position vacant since May 2019. .

“Morocco has been consulted about this appointment (…) .

Mr Hillale said “consultations[were]in progress” and that Mr Staffan de Mistura’s appointment would be announced in the coming days after approval from members of the Security Council.

According to several diplomatic sources at the United Nations, Morocco’s turnaround has been due to “strong pressure” from the United States and France on key positions in the Western Sahara issue. He intervenes when Algeria, previously backed by the Polisario Front’s Sahrawi separatists, has severed its diplomatic ties with Morocco.

Antonio Guterres on Tuesday asked 15 members of the Security Council to confirm their agreement to appoint Staffan de Mistura to immediately restart the appointment process. According to the same diplomatic sources, the Polisario Front gave its consent to the choice of the Italian-Swedish diplomat on 29 April.

In early July, the UN chief asked both sides to accept a new UN envoy, declaring that he had proposed at least 13 names for the former president’s successor (the last of which The name belonged to Stephan de Mistura). Officially resigned in May 2019 due to health reasons. According to diplomats, several personalities were approached without counting who had deemed the task of mediation impossible.

– “Flawless Cooperation” –

When asked in New York, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric confirmed that the “process of appointment” of an envoy from Western Sahara was underway. Recalling the dozen names already laid on the table, he said that “no one except (the Secretary-General) would be happy to make an announcement on the new envoy” so that he would “stop answering questions” in the post. could”. Unusually long filled.

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The question of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony regarded by the United Nations as a “non-autonomous territory” in the absence of a final agreement, has for decades opposed Morocco to the separatists of the Algerian-backed Polisario Front.

Stafan de Mistura, 74, has already served in senior UN positions during his career. He was the UN Special Envoy for Syria (2014–2018) and the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Iraq (2007–2009) and Afghanistan (2010–2011).

“Once appointed (…), Mr. de Mistura will be able to count on the cooperation and unfailing support of Morocco in the implementation of his facilitation for the settlement of this territorial dispute”, assured Mr. Hillale. .

In a statement, the Polisario Front questioned Morocco’s willingness to cooperate with the United Nations in its search for a permanent solution. “No real, credible and viable peace process will be possible so long as the Occupied State of Morocco persists with impunity, both in its illegal actions and in its attempts to force confidence in the occupied territories of Morocco. Republic of Sahrawi”, indicates this press release.

All attempts so far to resolve the conflict have failed. And since the resignation of the last UN envoy, the quadrennial talks involving Morocco, Polisario, Algeria and Mauritania have stalled.

Rabat, which controls about 80% of this vast desert region where major Moroccan development projects have been launched in recent years, is proposing an autonomy scheme under its sovereignty.

Polisario, for his part, is calling for a self-determination referendum under the auspices of the United Nations scheduled to sign a ceasefire among the belligerents in September 1991.

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