Horst Kohler, the United Nations Special Envoy on Western Sahara, has invited the Polisario Front to a first round of talks with Morocco in December in Geneva, according to Sahara Press Service.
The official media outlet aligned with Western Sahara independence said the Polisario Front received its invitation on Friday to attend talks in Switzerland. Kohler has said previously that he plans talks to renew the stalled peace process, and told the UN Security Council he hoped to have them by the end of 2018.
The envoy discussed plans with the Polisario Front delegation while in New York for the UN General Assembly. A UN spokeswoman confirmed to Reuters that Kohler plans the talks in Geneva, and also is inviting key regional stakeholders Algeria and Mauritania to participate in meetings planned for December 4 and 5.
Polisario Front leader and Saharawi President Brahim Ghali recently appealed to UN Secretary General António Guterres to assist in putting an end to a conflict with Morocco that has spanned four decades. Ghali’s letter followed reports of another attack on civilians in El-Aaiun, considered the Western Saharan capital.
The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) runs through October following the most recent six-month extension approved by the UN Security Council. It was established in 1991.
The fate of Western Sahara is a contentious point on the African continent, where Morocco only recently returned to the African Union after years of division over the issue. It also has interfered with Morocco’s accession to the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and other bodies and meetings including the Arab African Summit in Equatorial Guinea in 2016.
Image: UN file