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UN envoy to Western Sahara resigns

March 8, 2017 at 2:20 pm

Image of UN envoy for the Western Sahara Christopher Ross [Rm_Maghreb/Twitter]

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

Christopher Ross resigned in a letter last week addressed to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who is currently considering whether to make a new appointment.

Read: Morocco, the Western Sahara and democracy

Ross’ resignation comes as one of many UN failures in attempting to settle 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,” the UN political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman explained.

“He has been unable to bring the parties back to negotiations. He has offered his resignation for the secretary-general to act upon when he sees fit.” 

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

Guterres spoke by phone with Morocco’s King Mohamed VI earlier this month asking him to pull back troops from a zone in the contested Western Sahara.

Morocco has always maintained 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.