03 December 2015

UN Envoy for Western Sahara Confirms Ban Ki-moon Will Visit in 2016

ALGIERS – Christopher Ross, the United Nations special envoy for Western Sahara, confirmed on Tuesday that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit the territory in the coming months in an attempt to give impetus to the peace process.

According to the Algerian news agency APS, Ross pointed out that the goal of Ban’s visit will be to “make a contribution to the quest for a solution to this conflict that has lasted too long.”

The UN envoy arrived in Algeria on Monday at the beginning of a regional tour aiming to persuade Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, or SADR, to resume peace negotiations.

Algeria, which has been hosting some 160,000 Saharawi refugees for 40 years, was the first stop of Ross’ 10-day trip that will also include the Algerian town of Tindouf, adjacent to the refugee camps, Morocco and probably Mauritania.

Ross was received by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ramtane Lamamra, and Minister of Maghreb Affairs, African Union and Arab League Abdelkader Messahel.

The tour comes amid repeated calls from Ban Ki-moon to resume negotiations between the two parties of the conflict with a view to reaching a solution in accordance with the United Nations relevant resolutions.

The negotiation process stalled some years ago due to the opposing positions of both sides in the conflict, since SADR demands a referendum on self-determination, while Rabat opposes this option and proposes to grant more autonomy to the former Spanish colony, but to remain under Moroccan sovereignty.