Saturday, May 25, 2024
31 C
Brunei Town

Morocco accused of blocking UN visit to Western Sahara

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The pro-independence Polisario Front accused Morocco of obstructing a visit by the United Nations (UN) envoy for the disputed Western Sahara region and called on the UN to reveal the reasons why.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric had said last Friday that the secretary-general’s personal envoy, Staffan de Mistura, would “conduct a new phase of visits” to all concerned parties in the region “in the coming days”, starting in the Moroccan capital of Rabat last Saturday.

But on Monday, Dujarric said in a note to UN correspondents that de Mistura “has decided not to proceed with a visit to Western Sahara during this trip, but looks forward to doing so during his upcoming visits to the region”.

The Polisario Front’s UN representative, Sidi Omar, responded in a statement obtained on Tuesday by The Associated Press saying the group “deeply deplores” that Morocco “has once again resorted to obstructionism and delay tactics to prevent the personal envoy… from conducting his first visit to the territory”.

Morocco annexed Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony believed to have considerable offshore oil deposits and mineral resources, in 1975, sparking a conflict with the Polisario Front.

The UN brokered a 1991 cease-fire and established a peacekeeping mission to monitor the truce and help prepare a referendum on the territory’s future that has never taken place because of disagreements on who is eligible to vote.