UN envoy for Western Sahara quits

2017-03-07 05:25


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New York - The UN envoy for Western Sahara has offered his resignation after leading efforts for eight years to settle the conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front independence movement, a senior UN official said on Monday.

Christopher Ross submitted his resignation in a letter sent to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who is considering whether to make a new appointment.

Ross's departure would highlight the failure of the United Nations to make progress in settling the decades-old conflict in north Africa.

"He has worked for eight years to try to come up with a framework by which the parties - the king of Morocco and the Front Polisario - would be able to renew negotiations," said UN political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman.

"He has been unable to bring the parties back to negotiations," Feltman told reporters.

"He has offered his resignation for the secretary-general to act upon when he sees fit."

Guterres, who took over from Ban Ki-moon on January 1, is considering a series of new appointments of envoys who represent him in missions worldwide.

The move came after Guterres spoke by phone to Morocco's King Mohamed V1 earlier this month to ask him to pull back troops from a zone in the contested Western Sahara.

Ross, an American who served as US ambassador to Algeria and Syria, had been harshly criticised by Morocco who accused him of being biased in favour of the Polisario Front.

Morocco maintains that Western Sahara is an integral part of its kingdom despite a UN resolution that calls for a referendum on the future of the territory.

Read more on:    polisario front  |  antonio guterres  |  morocco  |  us  |  western sahara

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