Western Sahara separatists warn UN of return to violence
15 April 2016, 10:53
United Nations – The separatist leader of Western Sahara has
warned the United Nations of a return to armed conflict in the north African
territory unless pressure is put on Morocco to fully restore a UN mission
Polisario Front leader Mohammad Abdulaziz delivered the warning in
a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, three weeks after Morocco
expelled 80 staffers of the MINURSO mission, severely crippling its operations.
"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," wrote
Abdulaziz in the letter sent this week.
"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 colonised people," he wrote.
The warning came as the Security Council struggled to agree on how
to salvage the MINURSO mission with its skeletal staff.
Ban is due to release next week a report on renewing the mission's
mandate, but the clash with Morocco has left a question mark over the future of
the peace force.
The UN chief angered Rabat when he used the term
"occupation" to describe the status of Western Sahara, where Morocco
deployed troops in 1975.
The United Nations has been trying to broker a Western Sahara
settlement since the 1991 ceasefire that ended a war and led to the
establishment of MINURSO.
The mission was tasked with organising a referendum on the future
of Western Sahara, which never materialised. Diplomats said Morocco was
lobbying to have that provision dropped from the MINURSO mandate.
France and Senegal have supported Morocco in its demands,
according to diplomats, who raised concern that concessions to Rabat will
embolden other governments unhappy with a UN presence in their countries to