The UN Security Council is to vote on renewing a 25-year-old mission in Western Sahara, which recently plunged into crisis over remarks made by the Secretary General. Council members are divided.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has made an urgent plea for the retention of the mandate for the UN mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO).
He warned that the danger of an escalation into full-scale war would “grow significantly” if “MINURSO is forced to depart or finds itself unable to execute the mandate.”
Ban said the Security Council must “restore and support” the mandate and any weakening of the mission “can be expected to be exploited by terrorist and radical elements.”
The UN brokered a truce between Morocco and the indigenous Saharawi people in 1991, ending a 16-year insurgency.
Last month, Morocco expelled 84 UN civilian staff after the UN chief used the term “occupation” about the region. This has hampered the UN mission, whose mandate is up for renewal this month.
Morocco has threatened to pull out the soldiers it contributes to UN global peacekeeping missions, mainly in Africa, over the row.
“The Western Sahara problem may be seen as a small problem, but let us not forget that a spark may put a forest on fire,” the AU’s Western Sahara envoy Joaquim Chissano, a former president of Mozambique, told an informal meeting of the UN Security Council.