UN chief wants Western Sahara talks soon

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Wednesday for negotiations in the coming months to settle the frozen conflict over Western Sahara, at the centre of tensions between Morocco and African countries.
“This conflict must be brought to an end if the people of the region are to meet their shared challenges and achieve their full potential,” Ban said in a statement.
The UN chief said he had asked his envoy Christopher Ross to intensify efforts to bring Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front to the table.
“I urge all concerned within the region and within the broader international community to take advantage of my personal envoy’s intensified efforts to facilitate the launching of true negotiations in the coming months,” he said.
The United Nations has been trying to broker a settlement for Western Sahara since 1991, after a ceasefire was reached to end a war that broke out when Morocco sent troops to the former Spanish territory in 1975.
Ban said that after 40 years, the situation in Western Sahara “is becoming increasingly alarming.”
Local Sahrawi people are campaigning for the right to self-determination but Morocco considers the territory as a part of the kingdom and insists that its sovereignty cannot be challenged.
The Sahrawi have a long-standing demand for a referendum to be held on statehood.

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