Morocco’s Foreign Minister, Salaheddine Mezouar, said during a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York Thursday that the U.N. Mission in the Western Sahara (MINURSO) is “fully functional”.
The UN mission “is fully functional with the support and assistance of Morocco,” said Mezouar. “We have managed this dispute in a responsible manner.”
Morocco’s top diplomat said that the kingdom of Morocco has always acted “responsibly” on major international issues.
The United Nation Mission in Western Sahara or MINURSO was established in 1991 as a result of a successfully brokered ceasefire agreement between Morocco and the Polisario Front, a militant Sahwari breakaway group. The Polisario Front launched a 16-year guerilla war against Morocco following the Green March in 1975 when Morocco forced Spain to vacate the territory. The mission of MINURSO consists in monitoring the ceasefire agreement and observe any and all violations of the agreement.
The question of “full functionality” of MINURSO is one that U.N officials have not officially addressed.
The effectiveness and functionality of MINURSO has been in question since Morocco moved to expel 84 international civil servants earlier this year.
The expulsion came as a direct result of a diplomatic gaffe made by outgoing U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. During a visit to Tindouf, Algeria, the base of the Polisario Front and liaison office for MINURSO, Ban called Morocco’s reintegration of Western Sahara an “occupation.”
The UN civil servants assist the peacekeeping troops and military observers by providing administration and logistical support.
Morocco has since allowed 25 civil servants to return to the region.
After the press conference, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric declined to comment on Mezouar’s comment that MINURSO was “fully functional.”
Last month, Morocco sent its police forces into the Guergurat region on its southern border with Mauritania. The police action was taken to stop narcotics smugglers and terrorist activities in the region. The Polisario Front protested the police action, as well as the building of a road linking Morocco into Mauritania.
The Polisario Front sent nearly 34 armed combatants to stop the road building. Both sides were face-to-face with arms causing concern in both the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity.
Most recently, the Polisario Front has requested a monitoring station in Guerguerat.
United Nations officials have not yet responded to this request.