Morocco’s AU return may speedy fresh Sahara talks


Ethiopia has added its voice to calls for Morocco and the Polisario Front to amicably resolve political issues relating to the independence of the Western Sahara.

Ethiopia’s permanent representative on the Security Council, Ambassador Tekeda Alemu, was speaking during a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) session in New York.

This comes after the UNSC voted unanimously last Friday, to restart talks between the two differing sides and extend its peacekeeping mission in the territory for another year.

Ambassador Alemu held that it was key for both parties to commit themselves to resuming the fifth round of negotiation in good faith and without any condition, a move supported by the African Union (AU).

‘‘The latest development have underscored the need to exert renewed efforts for the resumption of talks between the parties to find a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution to this long standing issue on the basis of relevant Security Council resolutions.

‘‘This is something we have always supported based on our conviction that it will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the UN charter,’‘ he stressed.

According to him, the involvement of the African Union in the latest round of talks allied with the return of Morocco to the fold were positive signals relative to the new talks.

‘‘The resumption of direct and serious talks between the parties without preconditions also, is what the African Union has been calling for and fully supported.

‘‘Now that Morocco has returned to the African Union family – which is a very important development, which we welcome; we hope it might facilitate the speeding up of the process of finding an amicable solution to this long-standing dispute and that the African Union will have a supportive role to the UN-sponsored peace talks,’‘ he concluded.

Morocco and the Polisario fought for control of Western Sahara from 1974-1991 when Rabat took over the territory, before signing a UN-brokered ceasefire.

Rabat considers Western Sahara an integral part of Morocco and proposes autonomy for the resource-rich territory, but the Polisario insists on an independence referendum.

The Algeria-backed Polisario Front independence movement said on Monday (April 1, 2017) that it is ready to start negotiations with Morocco on the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

In a news conference, a senior official of the movement said the Polisario is ready to hold talks with Morocco aimed at self-determination.

“As far as negotiations with Morocco are concerned, the recommendation is clear: it will be on the basis of a political solution that ensures the rights of the Sahrawi people to self-determination and we are negotiating on this basis,” said a senior official, Mhamed Khadad.