Western Sahara : The Polisario fears the consequences of Horst Kohler’s resignation

The Polisario warned in a statement against using Horst Kohler’s resignation as an excuse to delay UN-led roundtable on Western Sahara. Commending the efforts of the German diplomat, the Front urged the UN to appoint a new personal envoy as soon as possible.

Germany's former President resigns from his role as UN Secretary-General's personal envoy to Western Sahara. / Ph. DR
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One day after Germany’s former President announced his resignation from his role as the UN Secretary-General’s personal envoy to Western Sahara, the Polisario Front said that it is «deeply saddened» by Horst Kohler’s decision.

Reacting to Kohler’s sudden resignation, the Front hailed in a communiqué the efforts made by the diplomat while in office. «During his tenure as personal envoy, President Kohler was unwavering in his pursuit of a just and lasting solution» to the conflict, the separatist movement said on its official press agency SPS.

In the same communiqué, the Polisario said that «it is fully committed» to the UN-led political process and the plans launched by Kohler. By the same token, the movement led by Brahim Ghali warned against the impact Kohler’s resignation might have on the Western Sahara conflict.

The Polisario voices its concerns after Kohler's resignation

«It is imperative that the personal envoy’s departure not be used as an excuse to delay or derail the progress since the first UN-led roundtable on Western Sahara held in December 2018», the Front argued.

Moreover, the Polisario urged the UN Secretary-General to quickly appoint a new personal envoy, who «shares President Kohler’s strong conviction, stature and resolve». The Polisario’s reaction to Kohler’s resignation was relayed by Algeria’s press agency APS.

While the Polisario voiced its concerns following Kohler’s resignation, Morocco commended in a short communiqué, released Wednesday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the efforts of the German personal envoy and «recognized the consistency, availability and professionalism with which he fulfilled his duties».

Kohler, who was appointed in August 2017 by Guterres as his envoy to Western Sahara, was expected to preside, this summer, a third round-table on the Western Sahara conflict, after holding two meetings in Geneva in December, 2018, and in March 2019, inviting delegations from Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the Polisario Front.

Kohler's resignation was announced by UN  spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, who said Wednesday 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.

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.

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