MINURSO mission in Western Sahara renewed by UNSC

The UN peacekeeping mission in the Western Sahara region has been extended for a year following a decision made by the UN Security Council.

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Expressing concern at the breakdown of the 1991 ceasefire between Morocco and the pro-independence Polisario Front, the UN Security Council has extended the UN peacekeeping mission in the Western Sahara region for a year, while also calling for a revival of UN-led negotiations.

In a vote where Russia and Tunisia have abstained, the UNSC voted 13-0 to extend the mission.

The voting was spearheaded by the United States, which under former President Donald Trump recognized Morocco’s sovereignty in the territory.

The resolution following the vote called for the parties to resume negotiations “without preconditions and in good faith” in search of a “just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution,” weeks after the appointment of Staffan de Mistura as the UN envoy on Western Sahara.

The resolution calls for the aim of “self-determination of the people of Western Sahara,” which has supposedly been added by the US at the behest of Russia.

The resolution also reaffirms the need to fully respect the ceasefire in the region that collapsed last year.

While Morocco has proposed wide-ranging autonomy for Western Sahara, the Polisario Front insists the local population in the area has the right to a referendum. Algeria backs the latter, which plays a part in the strained relations between the two Maghreb countries that broke off in August.

Roundtable talks were last held in early 2019 that brought together the Polisario Front as well as Morocco.

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