Rabat – The leader of the Polisario Front sent a letter to the United Nations earlier this week warning its diplomats that the eviction of MINURSO from the Western Sahara could bring the return of armed conflict between Morocco and the separatist Front.
“We warn that the absence of a real and direct pressure on the occupying state of Morocco from the international community, specifically the Security Council… will be considered a green light to a military aggression by the kingdom of Morocco against the Sahrawi people,” Mohammad Abdulaziz, the president of the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) and the secretary-general of the Polisario Front, wrote in the letter, according to News24.
“This people will find itself, again, obliged to defend its rights by all legitimate means, including the armed struggle, which is legalised by the UN to all colonized people,” he said.
Late March, Morocco anticipated international concerns that MINURSO’s eviction would lead the 1991 ceasefire between the Front and the kingdom to break, rekindling a war the two sides had been fighting for 16 years before the peace agreement.
“Morocco is sticking to the ceasefire and will defend it,” Moroccan head of government, Abdelilah Bekirane assured the international community via a spokesperson. “[The kingdom] “will continue its contacts with all friendly countries in the Security Council in this area,” he added.
Abdulaziz addressed the letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. leader who angered Morocco last month by referring to the kingdom’s presence in the Western Sahara as an “occupation.”
As a political response to Ki-moon’s remarks, Morocco expelled over 70 U.N. staffers from their MINURSO offices in Laayoune and Dakhla and rescinded a USD 3 million grant the country had been providing the mission for years.
Ki-moon’s office was due to finalize its annual report on the mission last week, however, due to the ongoing row between the U.N. leader and Morocco, it is expected to be adopted by the Security Council on April 28th with revised goals and terms, according to the council’s work schedule.
Earlier this month, the top U.N. diplomat sent a letter to King Mohammed VI regarding the row, but Ki-moon’s spokesperson declined to comment further on the contents of the letter.
The U.N. established MINURSO in 1991 as a third party to keep the peace in the Western Sahara and organize a referendum on independence for the Sahrawi people. Due to disagreements between the Polisario-established SADR and the Moroccan government on who should be allowed to vote in the referendum, it never materialized.
In 2007, Morocco proposed an autonomy plan that would allow the Sahrawi people of the Sahara to practice self-governance on regional issues under the sovereignty of the Moroccan flag. The Front rejected the plan, insisting on the promised referendum on independence instead.