BY SAMUEL MUNGADZE
JOHANNESBURG- Morocco has welcomed the inclusion of Algeria as part of a peace resolution conference to end more than 40 years of conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front over mineral-rich Western Sahara.
The vote on the U.S.-sponsored resolution was 12-0 in favour, with Russia, Ethiopia and Bolivia abstaining. The resolution also extends the mandate of the U.N. mission in Western Sahara until April 30, 2019.
Moroccan U.N Ambassador Omar Hilale said the decision to include its neighbour vindicates his country’s position that Algeria has been part of the conflict.
Hilale said: “For the first time, Algeria has been named as a main party in the political process. This opens the way to a true political solution, which is definitive, durable and mutually acceptable because it will a role that Algeria must play for a definitive resolution.”
He explained that roundtable set for 5 and 6 December in Geneva give Algeria the same status as Morocco and Mauritania at the meeting.
“The Security Council requires Algeria to take part in the Geneva meeting in good faith, without preconditions and in a spirit of compromise,” he said.
Morocco has for years accused Algeria of being part to the conflict in Sahara.
The Morocco-Sahara conflict has been going on since 1975 until the U.N. brokered a cease-fire in 1991 and established a peacekeeping mission to monitor it. Morocco has proposed wide-ranging autonomy for Western Sahara, while the Polisario Front insists the local population, which it estimates at 350,000 to 500,000, has the right to a referendum on the territory’s future that was called for in the cease-fire but has never taken place.
Hilale said the adoption of this resolution by the constitutes a major development in the management of the conflict of the Moroccan Sahara by the Security Council.