For the first time since the failure of the negotiations of Manhasset in the United States in 2012, the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, will be face to face with Khatri Addouh, the head of the Saharawi delegation to the negotiations in Geneva , in the presence of Horst Koehler, who declared at his taking office that his mission was to end the 43-year-old conflict.
These negotiations, to which Algeria and Mauritania were invited as neighboring states, will also see the participation of the Saharawi side, the Saharawi coordinator with the United Nations Mission for the organization of a referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), M'hamed Khaddad, Saharawi representative to the United Nations, Sidi Mohamed Omar, as well as the Secretary General of the National Union of Saharawi Women, Fatima Elmehdi and the Advisor to the National Secretariat of the Polisario Front, Mohamed Ali Zerouali.
Morocco has also made public the composition of its official delegation in Geneva. According to the Moroccan press, it will be led by Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, who will be accompanied by the Director General of Studies and Documentation (DGDE – intelligence service), Mohamed Yassine Mansouri.
Organized on the initiative of the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Western Sahara, Horst Koehler, the Geneva meeting is scheduled for two days (5 and 6 December) and will accelerate the resumption of direct negotiations between the two parties to the conflict, the Polisario Front and Morocco, in accordance with the requirements of UN resolutions, guaranteeing the Saharawi people the exercise of their right to self-determination, including that adopted in April 2018 (2414) who called on both parties to the conflict to "resume negotiations, without preconditions and in good faith."
In his invitations to the parties to the conflict, Mr. Kohler stressed that the "main objective" of these talks was "to discuss next steps to revive the political process, in addition to assessing developments since the cessation of the Manhasset process in 2012. "
In this context, the Polisario Front said it was always available to resume negotiations with Morocco, under the auspices of the UN, without preconditions with the will to restart the process of settlement of the Sahrawi conflict over the the basis of respect for international legality and UN resolutions, which guarantee the Saharawi people their right to self-determination.
Moreover, the Polisario Front has not ceased to express the hope that the process of settlement of the conflict will mark a decisive turning point, this year, insisting on direct negotiations and which should allow the Saharawi people to exercise his inalienable right to self-determination.
Restart the process after several years of Moroccan blockage
After a blockage of the process that has been going on since the cease-fire in Western Sahara, because of the obstacles set up by Morocco over the years to prevent the settlement of the conflict on the basis of the principles of international legality Mr. Kohler convinced the parties to the conflict, Morocco and the Polisario Front, the only legitimate representative of the Saharawi people, to meet again at the negotiating table.
On the eve of this meeting, the Saharawi President and Secretary General of the Polisario Front, Ibrahim Ghali, stressed that the Saharawi delegation will participate with "a sincere desire to progress towards a solution guaranteeing the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence. "
In his last presentation on the situation of Western Sahara, at the Security Council in early November, the UN envoy insisted on the urgency of relaunching the process of settlement of the Saharawi issue which would allow a "mutually acceptable solution that would guarantee the self-determination of the Saharawi people".
"The objective remains that of resuming the direct negotiations between the parties to the conflict in 2018," he pleaded, especially since the peace process launched by the United Nations in the early 1980s is currently in stalemate due to multiple obstacles Morocco has set up to prevent the settlement of the conflict.
Welcoming the initiative of the UN Special Envoy, for the relaunch of the negotiations, the Sahrawi coordinator with the Minurso, M'hamed Kheddad, affirmed that the approach of Mr. Kohler is part of the the spirit of the various UN Security Council resolutions calling for the resumption of talks with a view to reaching a lasting solution to the Sahrawi conflict that is "in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the relevant decisions" of the Organization of the African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN).
The meeting in Geneva comes at a time when the case of the Saharawi cause has recorded important developments, marked in particular by the verdicts of the CJEU, establishing the distinction between Morocco and the occupied Saharawi territories, as well as the reduction of the MINURSO mandate from twelve months to six months by the UN Security Council.
Western Sahara remains the last colony in Africa occupied by Morocco. The Saharawi question has been inscribed since 1966 on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories and is subject to Security Council Regulation 1514 which includes the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.
The meetings between the two parties to the conflict
The two parties to the conflict in Western Sahara, Morocco and the Polisario Front, had met several times since the invasion of the Saharawi territories by the Marco in 1975, before holding, under the auspices of the UN, direct negotiations for the settlement of the conflict, in accordance with international legality and UN resolutions, guaranteeing the Saharawi people the exercise of their right to self-determination.
Here are some references in the meetings and discussions, some secret, between Morocco and the Polisario Front:
– 1979 in Bamako (Mali): first direct contact.
– 1989: Meeting in Marrakech between King Hassan II and a Polisario delegation
– 1983 in Algiers
– 1996 in Geneva
– 1997 in London
– 2001 in Wyoming in the United States of America, meeting under the auspices of James Backer,
– 2009 to Durnshtain (Austria)
– 2010 in Westchester (USA)
– Long Island (USA 2010 – two encounters – and 2011)
– 2001 in Mellieha (Malta)
With regard to direct negotiations under the auspices of the UN, the rounds of discussions were held in:
– 1993 to occupied Al Aayun,
– 1997, July, in London
– 1997, August, in Lisbon
– 1997, September, in Houston
– 2000, July, in Geneva, on the confidence-building program.
– 2000, September, in Berlin
– In Manhasset (June and August 2007, January and March 2008) and March 2012, under the auspices of the emissary of the UN, Christopher Ross, as part of UN resolution 3437 of November 1979.