Morocco says no to UN mission’s expansion in Sahara

Rabat, April 17 (IANS) Morocco has turned down a proposal to expand the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), Foreign Minister Saad Dine El Otmani said.

“Morocco rejects any proposal to expand the mandate of the MINURSO or establish an alternative international mechanism for monitoring human rights in the southern provinces,” El Otmani was quoted as saying Tuesday by the Moroccan Press Agency, MAP.

Responding to a question on the latest developments of the Sahara issue at the UN, El Otmani noted that this rejection is based on “obvious political, security, and legal considerations”.

“This position is permanent and shall not change. It is based on obvious political, security and legal considerations,” El Otmani said.

The United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) was established by a Security Council resolution in April 1991.

The settlement plan, as approved by the Security Council, provided for a transitional period for the preparation of a referendum in which the people of Western Sahara would choose between independence and integration with Morocco.

El Otmani said that “since the introduction in 2007 by Morocco of the autonomy initiative, the issue of human rights has been constantly exploited in an attempt to deflect the negotiation process and serve as a pretext, the other parties, in order not to engage in negotiating a political solution to the regional dispute over the Sahara”.

“Morocco, on its own accord, adopted measures and initiatives for the promotion and protection of human rights, including the Sahara region…,” he said.

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