NAIROBI, 22 January 2021 – Algeria and Kenya have called on the United Nations to appoint a special envoy to help deescalate tensions in the Western Sahara.
An envoy would advance consultations and preparations for a UN-mandated referendum, said in a joint statement, the foreign minister of Kenya and Algeria, respectively CS Raychelle Omamo and Sabri Boukadoum.
The statement reaffirmed the support of Nairobi and Algiers for a lasting solution that addresses the root cause of the problem in the occupied territory.
The two countries reiterated their call for the holding of a free and fair referendum on self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.
The recommendation comes amid renewed and escalating armed conflict in the disputed territory where dozens have been killed and scores injured in recent weeks.
The fighting is between Morocco, which claims sovereignty over the Western Sahara, and the Polisario Front, recognized by the United Nations as the legitimate representatives of the Saharawi people.
Their independence fores fly the flag of the self-declared Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) which was recognized by the African Union but awaits a uN-mandated refereundum of self-determination.
The SADR holds about 20 to 25 percent of Western Sahara, with the rest of the occupied territory firmly within the control of Morocco.
A ceasefire was in place for 29 years before the last outbreak in violence and armed struggle.
The ceasefire was broken in the small village of Guerguerat in mid-October 2020 when Saharawi peaceful protesters blockaded a road leading from Morocco through the disputed territory to the rest of Africa.
Guergerat is next to a five-kilometer-wide buffer zone monitored by the United Nations.
Last November 13, Moroccan forces used violence to clear off the protesters from Berm into the demilitarized zone buffer zone of Western Sahara after much of the ground trsnsportation into Morocco was shutdown by the protests.
Polisario Front failed to get the United Nations to intervene to uphold the ceasefire reached between Morocco and them back in the 1990s.
The Polisario Front accuses the world body of playing a very dubious role in the sponsorship of Morocco’s recolonization of Western Sahara.
Despite establishing the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara in 1991, the referendum has never held.