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A Slovak minister tipped to be the new UN personal envoy for Western Sahara

A Slovak minister is tipped to be the next UN personal envoy to Western Sahara, diplomats told AFP. The nomination comes after Antonio Guterres announced that «a selection process [is] under way» to appoint a new personal envoy to Western Sahara.

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Slovak diplomat and Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. / Twitter

Slovak diplomat and Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak is one of the names expected to be appointed as the Secretary General’s personal envoy to Western Sahara, diplomats told French news agency AFP on Wednesday.

Unless one of the parties to the conflict objects, Lajcak’s nomination should be confirmed in the coming weeks, diplomats told AFP.

They also explained that Antonio Guterres’ attempts to appoint a new personal envoy to the Sahara has not been an easy task. «Several candidates refused to take up the post when asked, or were rejected by one of the parties to the conflict», the same sources told the news agency.

Yabiladi contacted the Moroccan Foreign Ministry but was unable to get a comment.

The Slovak politician’s name emerges after former UN personal envoy Horst Kohler resigned in May 2019, citing health reasons. While in office, the former German president succeeded in bringing the parties involved in the conflict together through round-tables held in Geneva in December 2018 and March 2019.

Appointing a personal envoy to the Sahara

Reports on Lajcak’s nomination come a few days after Guterres announced that «a selection process [was] under way» to appoint a new personal envoy to Western Sahara.

Interviewed by French-language magazine Jeune Afrique, last week, Guterres said that «[he] hopes to be able to appoint someone as soon as possible».

«The United Nations remains fully committed to supporting the parties in finding a political solution that will be fair, acceptable to all, and above all that will put an end to this conflict, which has been going on for too long», he explained.

Furthermore, the Portuguese diplomat described the Western Sahara issue as a «complex» one. «I remain convinced that with a strong political will on the part of the parties and the international community, a solution is possible», he told the Paris-based magazine.

While Morocco has remained silent since the resignation of Kohler, the Polisario complained several times about the vacant post. The separatist movement announced lately that it had lost confidence in the United Nations organization and the political process.

For the record, the Slovak diplomat has served before as the President of the UN General Assembly. In 2006, he organized and supervised a referendum on independence in Montenegro. On February 3, Lajcak met Guterres and spoke about the UN's work in 2020.

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