- Prime Minister Abdelkader Taleb Omar of the exiled Western Sahara government has warned against an "explosion" in the conflict over the Moroccan-occupied territory if no progress soon is registered. He called for a replacement of the UN mediator in the Western Sahara conflict, Peter van Walsum.
Mr Taleb Omar heads the Algeria-based government of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic - a full-fledged member of the African Union (AU) - and is among the leading cadres of Western Sahara's armed independence movement Polisario. Polisario has observed a UN-mediated ceasefire with Morocco since 1991, but the Sahrawi population in the Polisario-controlled refugee camps in Algeria and in the Moroccan-occupied territory is getting increasingly frustrated by lack of progress in UN mediations.
The Sahrawi Premier therefore warned that the UN now "must make a move because there is a risk of escalation and explosion" of the situation in the region. He affirmed that Polisario "is getting ready for the option of resuming the armed struggle though it does not wish to resume war".
The Sahrawi leadership is deeply disappointed with the UN, which in 1991 reached a ceasefire agreement between Polisartio and Morocco and was to organise a referendum over independence among Sahrawi citizens. The UN never managed to organise such a referendum due to Morocco's wrecking of the process, and during the last few years, UN mediators have moved further and further away from the original ceasefire agreement when proposing solutions.
In particular the current representative of the UN Secretary-General to the Western Sahara conflict, Peter van Walsum, has caused outrage among Polisario officials. Downplaying the possibility of independence for Western Sahara as "unrealistic" in April this year, the UN mediator holds that autonomy for Western Sahara within Morocco would be the best solution to the conflict. The same view is propagated by the Rabat government.
Sahrawi PM Taleb Omar yesterday repeated Polisario's earlier statements that Mr van Walsum does not have the necessary confidence among the Sahrawi party. Mr Taleb Omar therefore again called for "a replacement" of the UN mediator.
"The holding of new negotiations seems difficult as long as van Walsum remains" mediator, the Sahrawi PM said. Due to Mr van Walsum's April statements, where "he disqualified himself from his role as mediator," there was "no agenda for new negotiations," he added.
"The situation is difficult," PM Taleb Omar said. "The Moroccan regime is procrastinating. Unfortunately, there is not enough pressure on Rabat from the countries which can convince Morocco to respect the self-determination principle. On the contrary, there are attempts to take the issue out of the international legality framework, under the slogan of political realism."
As there is no progress in negotiations, the PM feared that "an explosion" may be imminent. "The Saharans are requested to continue their struggle in the next phase. But their willingness and hope in victory are strong. They take Algeria's revolution, when it was fighting French colonialism, as an example," concluded the PM.
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