Sahara: Horst Köhler throws in the towel

The UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, former German President Horst Köhler, has resigned from his mission “for health reasons”, announced Wednesday the United Nations in a statement.  

The Secretary General deeply regrets this resignation but says to understand it perfectly and transmits his best wishes to the emissary”, said the UN statement.

In the statement, the UN gave no details on the nature of the health problems of the envoy, Horst Köhler, 76, who held this position since June 2017.

In its first reaction, Morocco took note, “with regret”, of the resignation of the UN envoy Horst Köhler and paid tribute to him “for the efforts he has made since his appointment in August 2017,” said Wednesday the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement.

Morocco reiterated its support for the efforts of the UN Secretary-General to settle the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara, the statement said, adding that Morocco remains committed to achieving a realistic, pragmatic and durable political solution, based on compromise, within the framework of the Autonomy Initiative.

Like his predecessors, Horst Köhler tried everything to revive the political settlement process of the Western Sahara issue, but in the end, he threw in the towel in view of the diametrically opposed positions of stakeholders in this territorial dispute and especially the intransigence of the Polisario. Actually, Algeria, the mentor of the separatist front, encourages it to hang on to the self-determination referendum, an option considered by the UN obsolete and unachievable.

Even if the UN envoy Horst Köhler managed to gather in December 2018 and in March 2019, the four protagonists around the same table in Switzerland, the dialogue is still deadlocked because of the Polisario and Algeria, which stick to their initial position and refuse to admit the reality on the ground.

Besides, the turmoil in Algeria since February 22 has cut down Horst Köhler’s scope for maneuver, knowing that the real key to a solution of this conflict lies in the hands of the Algerian leaders.