#VOA. | Rabat advocates the resumption of “round tables” on Western Sahara

Rabat advocates the resumption of “round tables” to achieve a “political solution” to the Western Sahara conflict, a format rejected by Algeria which supports the Polisario separatists, Moroccan diplomacy indicated on Tuesday when receiving the envoy of the Staffan of Mistura.

Mr. de Mistura, who has been visiting Rabat since July 2, held talks on Tuesday with Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita and Moroccan Ambassador to the UN Omar Hilale, according to a statement from the ministry.

“The Moroccan delegation recalled the constants of Morocco’s position (…) for a political solution, based exclusively on the Moroccan autonomy initiative, within the framework of national sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the kingdom”underlines the press release. “She reiterated Morocco’s attachment to the political process of the round tables” in order to reach a political solution “realistic, pragmatic, sustainable and based on compromise”he concludes.

The question of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony considered a “non-autonomous territory” by the UN, has for decades opposed Morocco to the Sahrawi separatists of the Polisario Front, supported by Algiers.

Rabat, which controls nearly 80% of this territory, is proposing an autonomy plan under its sovereignty. The Polisario is calling for a self-determination referendum under the aegis of the UN, planned when a ceasefire was signed in 1991 but never materialized.

The round tables, organized in Geneva in 2019 following a UN resolution, are supposed to bring together Morocco, the Polisario, Algeria and Mauritania. But Algiers has already rejected this quadripartite format “counter productive” and wishes for bilateral negotiations between the Polisario and Morocco. Mr. de Mistura had to give up a planned visit to Western Sahara, the first since he took office in November, according to the UN.

No explanation was given for the choice of the senior Italian-Swedish diplomat, but according to sources familiar with the matter, the Moroccan authorities had expressed reservations about such a trip during Mr. de Mistura’s previous visit in January. Moreover, he would not have been able to meet all the interlocutors he wanted in Western Sahara.

In a statement, the Polisario has “deeply regretted” cancellation of Mr. de Mistura’s visit and accused Rabat of “to prevent him from directly testifying to the situation on the ground in the occupied Saharawi territories”.

Source: VOA-AFP.

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