Sahara : Self-determination, a sticking point in the Geneva round-table

Negotiations in Geneva between Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the Polisario under the auspices of the United Nations started on Thursday. The notion of self-determination was a sticking point in the round-table convened by the UN personal envoy.

The Moroccan delegation in Geneva, during the first round-table, held in December 2018./Ph. DR
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On Thursday, March the 21st, the second round-table officially started. The morning was devoted to separate meetings between the UN Personal Envoy for Western Sahara Horst Köhler and the presidents of the four delegations. Talks focused on the «political solution and regional integration», a source close to the file told Yabiladi.

Participants then discussed the developments that followed the first round-table, which took place on the 5th and 6th of December in Geneva. «This is, indeed, an important step that would help relaunch the political process, deepen discussions on regional integration and the political solution», the same source added.

The second round-table addresses «the framework of the political solution, as requested in resolution 2440 (adopted on October the 31st by the UN Security Council), namely a realistic, pragmatic and sustainable political solution based on compromise», the same source said.

Manhasset, learning form failure

However, reaching a compromise was not an easy task on Thursday, after the participating parties couldn’t agree on an interpretation for «self-determination».

While Morocco sees it as part of a framework that is based on «realism, pragmatism and sustainability», Algeria and the Polisario refuse this stand, «putting forward a very selective definition for self-determination», our source explained.

During the first round-table, held in December 2018, the Moroccan delegation «insisted on the importance of learning from the failure of the Manhasset process (four meetings between 2007 and 2008) and focusing on the parameters set and defined by the Security Council in its last two resolutions, 2414 and 2440».

For the record, the four delegations are expected to resume talks, Friday, for the second day of the round-table. According to the Spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, Stéphane Dujarric, the «Personal Envoy hopes the meeting will also build on the positive dynamic achieved during the first round-table, held last December in Geneva».

During a press briefing held on Thursday, Dujarric, said that «Köhler and the heads of the Moroccan and Polisario delegations are expected to speak to the press at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on Friday afternoon. And his statement will be webcast».

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