Morocco cuts UN mission over W.Sahara remarks

Morocco views Western Sahara as part of its territory

Morocco cuts UN mission over W.Sahara remarks

World Bulletin / News Desk

Morocco has cut staff at the UN mission in the Western Sahara in protest of recent comments by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about the disputed region.

In a Tuesday statement, the Moroccan Foreign Ministry said Rabat will cut a large part of the UN mission known as MINURSO and stop its voluntary contribution to the mission.

The ministry said Morocco will also look into pulling Moroccan contingents from UN peacekeeping missions.

The statement went on to say that Morocco “retains its legitimate right to take further steps…to defend its supreme interests, sovereignty and territorial integrity. ”

The Moroccan moves came after Rabat was angered by Ban’s use of the world “occupation” during his visit to refugee camps for native Sahrawis in southern Algeria earlier this month.

Tens of thousands of Moroccans took to the streets this weekend to protest Ban’s remarks regarding the disputed region, which Rabat views as part of its territory.

According to the statement, Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar met Ban in New York on Tuesday to “convey the condemnation and rejection of the Moroccan people of his unacceptable comments regarding the Western Sahara.”

“The Moroccan authorities believe such behavior does not match with the responsibilities and mission of the UN Secretary-General,” the statement said.

The Western Sahara is disputed between Morocco and the Polisario Front, which says the territory belongs to the Sahrawis.

The two sides signed a ceasefire in 1991, but talks aimed at resolving the conflict have since been deadlocked.

While Polisario wants a referendum on the region's fate, Morocco has said it will not offer more than autonomy for the region.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Mart 2016, 13:18