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Western Sahara: Politics and Government

Volume 486: debated on Tuesday 13 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer of 6 October 2008, Official Report, column 240, on Western Sahara: politics and government, what progress has been made by the UN in its negotiations with the Moroccan government on compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1813. (243806)

The UN Security Council adopted UN Security Council Resolution 1813 on 30 April. It called on the parties to show greater political will and to enter into more intensive and substantive negotiations towards a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. Since then the contract appointing Peter Van Walsum as the United Nations Personal Envoy to Western Sahara has expired. The UK hopes that the UN Secretary General will appoint a new personal envoy shortly and that a further round of negotiations under the Manhasset process will take place soon. The UK fully supports the efforts of the UN Secretary-General and his staff, and the negotiation process currently underway and has called on the parties to maintain their commitment to the process.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last (a) assessed the political situation in the Western Sahara and (b) considered the different options in the UN Security Council. (245757)

UK officials at our embassies in Rabat and in Algiers continue to assess the situation in Western Sahara and in the Tindouf camps closely. Officials based at the British embassy in Rabat visited Western Sahara in October 2008, calling on government officials, local NGOs and the UN peacekeeping mission, MINURSO. I anticipate further such visits in the future, as well as visits by UK officials to the camps in Tindouf.

We and other members of the UN Security Council considered the situation and the options available to the Council prior to the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 1813, on 30 April 2008. In line with UNSC resolution 1813, we continue to support the efforts of the UN Secretary-General and his staff to assist the parties in achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.