Moroccan Officials Receive Christopher Ross in Closed Meeting

Moroccan Officials meet on Thursday afternoon with the United Nations Secretary General’s Personal Envoy to Western Sahara, Christopher Ross.

The meeting, which was held at the headquarters of the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was attended by Moroccan Foreign Minister, Salaheddine Mezouar, and Minister Delegate to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mbarka Bouaida.

No statement was made neither by the UN envoy nor by Moroccan diplomats following the meeting. At the exception of the three Moroccan TV channels Al Oula, 2M and Medi 1 TV, the press was not allowed to attend the meeting.

Ross’ visit to the region comes almost 10 months after his last visit to the region last year.

Morocco expressed no willingness to receive the American diplomats until he clarifies his intentions regarding his mediations efforts and shows his readiness not to deviate the United Nations Mission for the Organization of a Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) from its main mandate.

Morocco grew wary of Ross’ intentions to empower MINURSO with a human rights monitoring mechanism.

The visit of Christopher Ross comes shortly after a telephone conversation between the UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon and King Mohammed VI, in which the UN chief gave assurances to the Moroccan monarch regarding the nature of MINURSO’s mandate.

Ross will also visit Algeria and the Tindouf camps. After his North African visit, Christopher Ross will also travel to the member countries of the Security Council: Spain, France, Britain, Russia and the United States. Spain is a non-permanent member of the UNSC.

Since January 2009, Morocco and the Polisario held 10 informal rounds of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy, Christopher Ross. All of these negotiations have ended without any progress.

In April 2007, Morocco presented an Autonomy Plan that was described as “serious and credible” by influential members of the Security Council. The said plan proposes significant autonomy for the Sahara with a local government and a parliament, within the Moroccan sovereignty.