Morocco blows away US move to alter MINURSO’s mandate
UNITED NATIONS - The United States has withdrawn a demand that the United Nations start human rights investigations in disputed Western Sahara following furious lobbying by Morocco, diplomats said Tuesday.
Morocco had condemned the US move to put the demand in a UN Security Council resolution on the UN peacekeeping mission in the North African territory to be voted on Thursday.
UN efforts to seek a peace deal between Morocco and the Polisario Front, which wants an independent state, are deadlocked.
The United States had originally proposed a resolution calling for the UN mission, MINURSO, to carry out "monitoring and reporting on human rights" in Western Sahara and in the refugee camps run by the Polisario, diplomats said.
But Morocco lobbied intensely in Washington and with Britain, Spain and France -- members of the friends of Western Sahara group along with the United States and Russia -- to get the resolution changed.
It cancelled the annual African Lion joint military exercises with the United States.
The United States generally draws up the annual resolution on the MINURSO mandate and it is then agreed by the Friends group before being submitted to the 15-members of the Security Council.
The new resolution was to be sent to all 15 members of the Security Council on Tuesday and a vote was expected Thursday.
Morocco, which only proposes increased autonomy for Western Sahara, while UN resolutions call for a self-determination vote, had condemned the proposed resolution as "biased."