Brahim Ghali to Guterres: UN must do more to restore the confidence of our people in the UN peace process in Western Sahara

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Bir Lehlou (Saharawi Republic) 30 December 2019 (SPS)– The President of the Saharawi Republic and Secretary General of Polisario Front, Mr. Brahim Ghali, addressed a letter on the 28th of December to the Secretary General of the UN, Mr. António Guterres, stressing that the UN needs to do more to restore the confidence of our people in the UN peace process in Western Sahara.

He indicated in the letter, which will be distributed to members of the UN Security Council, that there are various specific measures the UN needs to implement to restore the lost confidence of the people of Western Sahara in the process.

On the other hand, Brahim Ghali affirmed that while Polisario “reiterates continued commitment to a peaceful solution to the conflict, it can never be a partner in any process that does not fully respect and provide for the exercise by the people of Western Sahara of their inalienable right to self-determination and independence in accordance with General Assembly and Security Council relevant resolutions.”

The letter is addressed to the UN Secretary General after the successful organisation of Polisario Front’s 15th Congress, held on the period from the 19th to the 25th December, in the liberated town of Tifariti, Western Sahara, to which 300 foreign guests and 2400 Saharawi delegates participated.

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Here is the full text of the letter of which SPS received a copy:

H.E. Mr António Guterres  

Secretary-General of the United Nations

United Nations, New York

Bir Lehlou, 28 December 2019

Your Excellency,

I would like to inform you that the 15th Congress of the Frente POLISARIO was held in the locality of Tifariti in Western Sahara from 19 to 24 December 2019.

The Congress took stock of the UN-led international efforts aiming at resolving the conflict in Western Sahara resulting from the continuation of the Moroccan illegal occupation of parts of Western Sahara since 31 October 1975. In this regard, the Congress expressed its firm and strong support for the decision taken by the Frente POLISARIO regarding its engagement in the UN peace process. As you are aware, following the adoption of Security Council resolution 2494 (2019) on 30 October 2019, the Frente POLISARIO announced its intention to reconsider its engagement in the peace process as a whole in the face of the UN Secretariat and the Security Council’s repeated failure to prevent Morocco from dictating the terms of the peace process and the UN’s role in Western Sahara.

The Congress observed, with deep concern, that the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has so far failed in fulfilling its mandate, as established in Security Council resolution 690 (1991) and subsequent resolutions, which is to hold a free and fair referendum on self-determination for the people of Western Sahara. The Mission instead has become a passive bystander in the face of Morocco’s annexationist actions aimed to “normalise” and entrench its illegal occupation of parts of Western Sahara, including, among other things, involving third parties to open “consulates” in the city of El Aaiún, the capital of occupied Western Sahara. In this regard, the Congress expressed its deep frustration at the UN’s silence and inaction in the face of these illegal, provocative and destabilising actions, which seriously undermine the UN’s credibility in the eyes of our people.

Your Excellency,

Our people have lost confidence in the UN-sponsored peace process and the UN Mission in Western Sahara. The UN-led peace process, in its current form, has seriously deviated from its course and the UN Mission has failed in implementing its mandate. Therefore, to restore the confidence of our people in the UN peace process and the UN Mission, the UN Secretariat and the Security Council, acting within the scope of their respective responsibilities, should take the following urgent actions:

1. Initiating a serious political process based on a clear and solid foundation that is consistent with relevant principles of international law and directed towards achieving a peaceful and lasting solution based on the consent of the Sahrawi people expressed through a credible and genuine process of self-determination in which our people could choose freely and democratically between a full range of options. To this end, the early appointment of a competent and independent Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara is crucial. The appointment of a new PESG however should not be an end in itself in the absence of a serious, purposeful political process.

2. Adopting clear decisions to ensure direct and substantive negotiations as soon as possible between the two parties to the conflict, the Frente POLISARIO and Morocco, with a view to achieving the above-mentioned solution. It is important to stress that any solution to which the two parties may arrive—and for it to be genuine and sustainable—should be approved through the genuine and free expression of the will of the Sahrawi people, the exclusive holder and subject of the right to self-determination.

3. Ensuring full and strict respect for and adherence to the terms of the ceasefire and related military agreements that have been consensually agreed by both parties and endorsed by the Security Council. In this regard, immediate and robust measures should be taken to restore the status quo ante existing on the day on which the ceasefire came into effect on 6 September 1991. This entails, among other things, that the illegal breach opened by Morocco through its military wall and across the Buffer Strip in Guerguerat should be closed with immediate effect.

4. Ensuring the independence and impartiality of MINURSO by taking all necessary decisions and measures to guarantee that all its military, political and administrative activities are carried out in line with basic standards of UN peacekeeping. This entails, among other things, that all restrictions imposed by Morocco on the Mission should be removed and that the UN should exercise its exclusive authority in all matters relating to the full and effective implementation of MINURSO’s mandate. The Mission should also treat both parties equally. It is utterly unacceptable that, because of Morocco’s policy of blackmail, the SRSG and Head of MINURSO cannot meet with the Frente POLISARIO in the areas of Western Sahara under the Frente POLISARIO’s effective control. The fact that former Special Representatives of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara had met with us on several occasions in those areas demonstrates that the argument of the “longstanding practice” is untenable and thus unacceptable.

5. Assuming fully and effectively the UN responsibility towards Western Sahara, which remains a Non-Self-Governing Territory, and towards its people as reaffirmed repeatedly by the General Assembly. This includes ensuring the protection of the political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Sahrawi people, including their right to permanent sovereignty over their natural resources, and regular reporting on the situation in the Territory to relevant UN bodies. It is unacceptable that MINURSO, which is still denied full access to local interlocutors in occupied Western Sahara, often reports on alleged investment projects by the occupying power and does not report on the continued violations of the fundamental human rights of the Sahrawis and the systematic plunder of the natural resources of the Territory.

These are indispensable actions that should be taken to restore the confidence of our people in the UN peace process because we cannot engage in any process that does not enjoy the confidence and support of our people. While we reiterate our continued commitment to a peaceful solution to the conflict, we would like to underscore that we can never be a partner in any process that does not fully respect and provide for the exercise by the people of Western Sahara of their inalienable right to self-determination and independence in accordance with General Assembly and Security Council relevant resolutions.

I would be most grateful if you would bring this letter to the attention of the Members of the Security Council.

Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Brahim Ghali

Secretary-General of the Frente POLISARIO.”