The United Nations will carry out discussions with the Moroccan government to determine the size of the peacekeeping mission in the Western Sahara to allow its return to Laayoune and Dakhla in the coming months, according to an official spokesperson.
Security Council resolution 2285, passed last week, called for the return of MINURSO to its offices in the Sahara in order to ensure the mission’s “full functionality.” The document, however, did not specify whether full functionality entailed reinstating the entirety of the mission’s staff to Morocco, after the government evicted the personnel in March following Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s comments deeming the kingdom’s presence in the region an “occupation.”
“Obviously, discussions will be had with the [Moroccan] Government and the Group of Friends who are Security Council members,” Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for Ki-moon, said. “We have our marching orders from the Security Council and we will go forward from there.”
The goal of the U.N. from the ensuing discussions is to “see a return of the mission to be able to fulfill its mandate,” since it is “currently not in a position to fulfill its mandate,” Dujarric said.
The Group of Friends of the Western Sahara consists of France, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. Spain’s two-year term on the council will end in 2016 and the other four states, plus China, make up the five permanent members of the 15-nation body.
Though the newly approved resolution asks Ki-moon to report on the status of MINURSO in 90 days, Dujarric said the report could be issued earlier, if need be.
During the spokesperson’s introductory remarks on world events under the U.N.’s radar and Ki-moon’s travel and political agenda, he dismissed recent reports that security guards escorted Ahmed Boukhari, the separatist Polisario Front’s representative in New York, outside the international organization’s headquarters.
Dujarric said the rumors were “completely false,” since Boukhari has a valid badge to enter the building as an official responsible for the Front’s interaction with the U.N.
MINURSO was established in April 1991, after the U.N. brokered a peace deal between Morocco and the Polisario Front, ending a 16-year war. That latest row between Ki-moon and the North African government has been described as the most serious in the 25-year history of the mission.