The Moroccan government has expressed its “unequivocal opposition to any role of involvement of the African Union in the case of the Western Sahara and a strong rejection of repeated attempts by the African Union to discuss the issue before the Security Council.”
In a letter sent to the United Nations Secretary General and members of the Security Council, Omar Hilale, Morocco’s Ambassador to the United Nations made it clear that that dispute remains within the exclusive purview of the United Nations.
“The Kingdom of Morocco has always expressed its strong opposition to any implication or role of the African Union on the issue of the Sahara,” the Moroccan Hilale said in the letter obtained by Morocco World News.
The Moroccan diplomat said the African Union’s implication jeopardizes the political process for the resolution of the conflict, adding that it has already taken position in favor of one party to the conflict.
“The African Union has already taken position in favor of one party. Thus, the African cannot be a judge and a party,” Hilale said in the letter.
“The credibility of the African Union on the issue of the Moroccan Sahara is compromised given its position, which prejudged, in a biased manner, the outcome of the political negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations, by admitting, within its membership, an entity that has no attribute of sovereignty,” he added.
The United Nations has been overseeing the development of the conflict since 1991, when it brokered a peace agreement between Morocco and separatist forces, ending a 16-year war.
Hilale’s letter dismissed the African Union’s perspective, citing the support the United Nations has received from many parties in the international community – including African countries – in seeking a resolution to the dispute.
The AU’s special envoy for the Western Sahara told some members of the Security Council during an informal meeting on Tuesday that Morocco’s eviction of United Nations peacekeeping staff sets a “very dangerous precedent” for U.N. missions.
The envoy, named Joaquim Chissano, made his remarks two days before representatives for the council’s member countries vote on renewing the expelled mission’s mandate for another year.
“The Western Sahara problem may be seen as a small problem. But let us not forget that a spark may put a forest into fire and we should avoid that to happen,” Chissano said during the meeting, which was held outside of the Security Council room. The meeting was boycotted by several Council members, such as France, Spain, Senegal and Egypt.
Last month, Morocco expelled over 84 civilian UN staffers as a political response to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s use of the term “occupation” to describe Morocco’s presence in the Western Sahara following a visit to camps housing displaced Sahrawis in Tindouf, Algeria.
Morocco exited the African Union in 1984, after the continental entity decided to admit the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), as a member of the union.
In 2014, Morocco rejected the appointment of Chissano, who previously served as president of Mozambique, to the diplomatic position and called on the Security Council to “ignore” AU’s decision.