Morocco, Polisario welcome appointment of new Western Sahara envoy
By Naoufel Cherkaoui for Magharebia in Rabat – 13/01/09
US diplomat Christopher Ross was appointed on Wednesday (January 7th) as the new United Nations Envoy for Western Sahara, replacing Peter van Walsum of the Netherlands.
"Mr. Ross," noted Michele Montas, spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, "will work with the parties and neighbouring countries based on the most recent Security Council resolution 1813 (2008) and previous resolutions, building on progress made to date, in pursuit of a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara."
The decision was welcomed by Morocco, the Polisario Front and Algeria.
The Front issued a statement, published by the Sahara News Service on Friday (January 9th), noting, "The Polisario stresses its intention to co-operate with Mr. Ross, and offers him the necessary assistance in order to rid the Moroccan Sahara of occupation according to UN resolutions."
"All resolutions issued by the General Assembly and the Security Council stress that the solution to the Western Sahara conflict lies in the Saharan nation exercising their inalienable right of self-determination."
The Polisario regrets that Morocco "has prevented and rejected all strategies for working out a solution, and has hindered to date the appointment of Christopher Ross."
Moroccan Communication Minister Khaled Naciri told Magharebia his country had nothing to do with delaying Ross's appointment. In relation to negotiations, Naciri said, "Morocco is in full harmony with the Security Council resolutions and the general opinion of the organisation."
Naciri, speaking to the press on Thursday (January 8th), said, "Ross will not start over because major work has been done at the UN Security Council, recalling the latest resolution (1813) of the UNSC, which urges the parties to work in a spirit of realism and good intentions."
He added that the new envoy would find Morocco as available as it has always been in efforts to resolve the issue of the Western Sahara.
The Algerian foreign ministry stated on January 10th that "Algeria can only affirm its full willingness to co-operate with [Ross] and accompany him in his efforts aimed at implementing the wise Security Council resolutions in relation to the Moroccan Sahara, in order to arrive at a political solution acceptable to both sides, one that allows the Sahara people to exercise their right of self-determination."
Spanish newspaper El País published news in September about Ross replacing Peter Van Walsum, whose mandate ended in August.
Christopher Ross, who speaks Arabic, has worked as US Ambassador to Syria and to Algeria, Director of the American Cultural Centre in Morocco, and Senior Adviser for the Middle East and North Africa at the US Mission to the UN.
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