The United Nations Security Council has extended the mandate of the Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) by five months to 30 November.
According to the text of the resolution, passed on Friday, the decision was based on the UN Secretary-General’s report on the situation in the disputed territory. The report includes a draft framework agreement prepared by James Baker III, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to Western Sahara.
Under the terms of the resolution, the parties to the dispute - Morocco and the POLISARIO Front - are required to discuss and negotiate any changes they desire in the proposals. It stressed that by engaging in the negotiations, “the parties would not prejudice their final positions”.
Morocco annexed Western Sahara after the former colonial power, Spain, pulled out in 1975. The POLISARIO Front subsequently took up arms to seek independence for the territory.
Under UN mediation both sides had agreed to a referendum on independence or Moroccan rule, but differences over eligibility of voters have stalled the process for 10 years.
New proposals being tabled by the UN envisage limited autonomy for Western Sahara leading to a final referendum on independence within five years.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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