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Polisario Blasts UN over W.Sahara Human Rights

Picture Credit: UNHCR on Flickr
Mohamed Abdelaziz, head of the Polisario Front, has called the recent Security Council Resolution on Western Sahara "a scandal for the credibility of the United Nations and the Security Council." Council members had debated amending the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force (MINURSO) to allow it to monitor human rights violations in Western Sahara. Under the leadership of France, however, the Council had excluded any mention of "human rights" in the unanimously-approved final resolution. Abedlaziz claims that Moroccan human rights abuses in Western Sahara could lead to a renewal of armed conflict.

May 3, 2010

The Polisario Front, pushing for Western Sahara independence, condemned Sunday the UN Security Council for not including human rights in a resolution extending the UN mission in the territory.

The Security Council on Friday unanimously agreed to extend by one year, until April 30, 2011, the mandate of the UN mission (MINURSO) in Western Sahara.

But in a victory for Morocco, which annexed the former Spanish colony in 1975, the text makes no mention of any explicit mechanism to monitor allegations of human rights violations, as sought by some council members.

"Unfortunately, we believe this is a scandal for the credibility of the United Nations and the Security Council," Mohamed Abdelaziz, the head of the Polisario Front, told AFP at a refugee camp for Western Sahara refugees in Algeria.

The Polisario movement had pushed for the MINURSO mandate to be amended to allow it to monitor human rights in the territory.

He warned that "any delay in reaching a solution" and the "inability" of the United Nations to ensure the protection of human rights "makes it very difficult to control the situation and avoid a return to an armed struggle."

But he welcomed the Council's backing for "direct negotiations between the parties with the aim of a just solution that ensures the self-determination for the Saharawi people," he said.

Morocco's 1975 annexation of the Western Sahara sparked a war between its forces and Algerian-backed Polisario guerrillas. The two sides agreed to a ceasefire in 1991 but the UN-sponsored talks on Western Sahara's future have since made no headway.

Rabat has pledged to grant Western Sahara widespread autonomy but rules out independence. The Polisario Front wants a referendum on self-determination, with independence as one of the options.

"Sooner or later there will be a referendum on self-determination and it must have several options," said Abdelaziz. "We will not impose any option for the Saharawi people."

Earlier this month, UN chief Ban Ki-moon pledged that the world body would continue "an active and balanced" role in the search for a Western Sahara settlement.


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