The new Uited Nation Envoy for the disputed Western Sahara, Horst Koehler, has met with leaders of the Algerian-backed independence movement in a bid to get stalled peace talks back on track.
The former German president is tasked with mediating the decades-old dispute, met with leaders from the Polisario Front in Algeria where they are based.
“I came to listen to both sides of the conflict, to see firsthand the conditions in the refugee camps and to better understand the issue and more importantly to make my personal assessment”. Horst Koehler, New UN Envoy, Western Sahara.
The meeting is part of a fresh push by the United Nations to resolve one of Africa’s longest-running territorial disputes, which saw the Polisario Front wage a bitter 16-year insurgency against Moroccan control.
“I expect the visit of the envoy to put pressure on the United Nation’s Secretary-General and especially the Security Council, so that a date is set for us to organise a referendum on our independence”. Rachid Mostafa Said, Saharawi Minister.
“We have expressed our full readiness, since the first day of his appointment to help each other and work with him on the principle that the question of Western Sahara is in fact very clear according to law it is a question of self-determination”. Katri Adouh, Speaker, Saharawi Parliament.
A UN-brokered ceasefire in 1991 halted the fighting, but Morocco insists the phosphate-rich region is an integral part of its kingdom.
Western Sahara is the only territory on the African continent whose post-colonial status has still not been resolved.