Sahara: Côte d’Ivoire Hails Increasing International Support for Autonomy Plan

Côte d’Ivoire hailed, before the United Nations Committee of 24 (C-24), the increasing international support in favor of Morocco’s Autonomy initiative in the Sahara. Speaking at the C-24 Annual meeting in New York, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Cote d’Ivoire at the UN, Gbolié Désiré Wulfran Ipo, stressed that his country is delighted with the increasing international support in favor of the Moroccan plan, supported by more than a hundred UN Member States. Reaffirming his country’s full support for this broad Autonomy plan, which is in line with international law, the United Nations Charter and the resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly, the diplomat underlined that the Moroccan initiative eloquently demonstrates the Kingdom’s attachment to a compromise solution in the final settlement of this regional dispute. He noted that the Autonomy plan “which confers many prerogatives on the local populations remains the compromise solution to settle the question of the Moroccan Sahara”. Renewing his country’s full support for the UN political process undertaken under the exclusive auspices of the UN Secretary-General aimed at achieving a realistic, pragmatic, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, the diplomat welcomed UNSG’s initiatives and those of his Personal Envoy to the Sahara, Staffan de Mistura, including his meetings in Rabat, in the Tindouf camps, in Algiers and Nouakchott as well as the informal consultations he held last March in New York with Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the “polisario”. These steps have raised “real hope” of a resumption of political dialogue between the parties to the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara, he said, adding that this approach, which aims to maintain the positive momentum driven by the two round tables held in Switzerland in 2018 and 2019 in which Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the “polisario” participated, deserves everyone’s support. “Therefore, my delegation calls on these four participants to display realism and a spirit of compromise to facilitate the resumption of the round table process in the same format, in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2654 adopted on 27 October 2022”, he continued, calling on all parties to remain committed throughout the political process in order to reach a peaceful settlement of the Moroccan Sahara issue. The representative of Côte d’Ivoire also welcomed the regular participation of the inhabitants of the Moroccan Sahara region in the various elections organized in the Kingdom, the most recent of which date from September 08, 2021, noting that during these democratic elections, the populations freely choose their local representatives, some of whom took part in the round tables in Geneva, as well as in the meetings of the C-24, in particular its regional seminars and Annual sessions. He also welcomed the participation of these local elected officials in the work of this Committee. At the economic level, the diplomat indicated that this Autonomy plan is concretised by the important investments of the Kingdom of Morocco within the framework of its model of development of the southern provinces launched in 2015, noting that this model contributes to significantly improve the well-being of the local population as evidenced by the high level of the Human Development Index in the region. He also praised Morocco’s substantial achievements in the field of human rights, welcomed by Security Council resolutions, in particular resolution 2654. The speaker also expressed his country’s concern about the human rights situation in the Tindouf camps, while calling for compliance with the recommendations of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), international humanitarian law and relevant Security Council Resolutions. Finally, he commended Morocco’s respect for the ceasefire in the Sahara as well as its continued cooperation with MINURSO, urging the other parties to comply with the existing military agreements and close cooperation with this UN mission in favor of peace and stability throughout the region.