Sahara : Is Morocco linked to Horst Kohler’s sudden resignation ?

On Wednesday, the UN Secretary-General's spokesperson announced that the Personal Envoy to Western Sahara Horst Kohler resigned. Was his decision linked to health issues or Morocco’s reported pressure ?

Germany's former president Horst Kohler has resigned this Wednesday. / DR
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Germany’s former president Horst Kohler resigned, Wednesday, from his role as the UN Secretary-General's personal envoy, American press agency Associated Press (AP) reports.

Quoting the UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, AP explained that the former German president left office due to health reasons. Dujarric said that the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke to Kohler on Wednesday and «expressed deep regret at his resignation and extended his best wishes» to him. The same source added that Kohler did not give details about his health condition. 

Kohler, who was appointed in August 2017 by Guterres as his envoy to Western Sahara after American diplomat Christopher Ross resigned, was expected to preside, this summer, a third round-table on the Western Sahara conflict, inviting delegations from Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the Polisario Front.

Pressure from Morocco

Horst Kohler’s unexpected resignation is reportedly a result of the «pressure from Morocco» on the German diplomat, a source close to the file told Yabiladi on Wednesday. The Kingdom «has always been steadfastly opposed to Kohler’s obvious desire to get the African Union involved in the settlement of the territorial conflict», the same source pointed out, adding that this «disagreement was never hidden by Rabat, that expressed it during the first months that followed Kohler’s appointment».

The same source did not rule out the possible link between Kohler’s resignation and the discreet visit conducted last week by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in New York. 

«Morocco has launched, for months now, a diplomatic campaign with its allies and other influential countries, deemed close to the issue, to convince them of the mistakes made by the German diplomat», the same source revealed. 

Despite the disagreements with Kohler's handling of the matter, Morocco «took note of [his] resignation and regretted» the decision, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in a communiqué sent to Yabiladi on Wednesday. «The Kingdom of Morocco commends Horst Kohler’s efforts since his appointment in August 2017, recognizing the consistency, availability and professionalism with which he fulfilled his duties», the Ministry said.

For the record, Kohler's predecessors had all ended up resigning. James Baker (March 1997 - June 2004), Peter van Walsum (July 2005 - September 2008) and Christopher Ross (January 2009 - March 2017) left office after they were appointed by the UN to settle the dispute.

Article modified on : 2019/05/23 03h20

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