UN envoy pushes to resume peace talks on Western Sahara dispute

UN envoy pushes to resume peace talks on Western Sahara dispute

The UN’s new envoy to Western Sahara—a disputed territory in northwest Africa—will continue his tour of the region with a visit to Tindouf, home to the independence-minded Polisario Front. Horst Koehler has spent the past 48 hours in Morocco, which claims some 80% of Western Sahara. But while Rabat exerts de facto control over a majority

UN envoy to Western Sahara pushes for restart of peace talks

Photo: Flickr/Nick Brooks

The UN’s new envoy to Western Sahara—a disputed territory in northwest Africa—will continue his tour of the region with a visit to Tindouf, home to the independence-minded Polisario Front.

Horst Koehler has spent the past 48 hours in Morocco, which claims some 80% of Western Sahara. But while Rabat exerts de facto control over a majority of the territory, no country formally recognises its claims and Algeria is openly hostile to it.

Algiers has provided logistical, financial and political support to the Polisario Front—a nationalist Sahrawi group—for over 40 years. An independent Sahrawi state with close ties to Algeria would grant the north African giant access to the Atlantic Ocean and cement its position as the dominant power in the Maghreb.

Mr Koehler’s mandate is to restart peace talks between Rabat and Polisario. Don’t expect speedy resolution; the UN has been perusing peace talks between Morocco and Sahrawi nationalists for over a decade with little success. But as the only African territory yet to resolve its post-colonial status, peace in Western Sahara is long overdue.

Delve deeper: Berber nationalism in Morocco

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