Morocco envoy to UN: the Sahara problem is closed

Hilale hits back at the Algerian Ambassador to the UN, saying the Moroccan Sahara returned definitively to Morocco and exposes the catastrophic situation of human rights in Algeria and in the Tindouf camps.

LONDON – Morocco’s ambassador to the United Nations said Sunday that the regional dispute around the Western Sahara was definitely settled for the North African kingdom in response to Algeria’s ambassador to the UN’s statement at the C24 seminar in the Dominican Republic.

“No offense to Algeria, the Moroccan Sahara was completely decolonized. The Moroccan Sahara returned definitively to Morocco. The Moroccan Sahara was reinstated thanks to international law, thanks to negotiations and thanks to the Madrid Agreement, of which the UN General Assembly took note in its resolution of December 1975," said Hilale.

"Let it be understood, the Sahara problem is closed. The people of the Sahara live peacefully in these Moroccan provinces and they fully enjoy all of their rights, as stated by Mrs. Ghalla Bahiya, vice-president of the Region of Dakhla Oued Eddahab, which participated in the seminar, at the invitation of the President of the C24, as democratically elected representative of the Moroccan Sahara region," he added.

The Moroccan diplomat said that Ms. Ghalla came from the 2015 regional elections in the Moroccan Sahara.

“The Kingdom will organize the next elections, at the regional level, in 10 days, including in its southern provinces. There will be a renewal of elected officials. This is the Sahara, it is participatory democracy, generational inclusiveness. It is above all the right of everyone to take part in the daily life of the Sahara,” said Hilale.

"The presentation made by the elected representative of the Sahara, Mrs. Ghalla, in front of the C24 is a very exhaustive photo, very concrete on the daily life of the populations, on their participation in the electoral process, in the economic development and in the flourishing of culture in general, but also of Hassani culture," he said.

"Today we have heard broad support for the political process and the Autonomy Initiative from the overwhelming majority of C24 members. That is why I would like to assure all of them that, despite the adversity of Algeria, despite the continuation of this hostile Algerian policy towards Morocco, interference and arming of a small separatist armed group, for 45 years, Morocco remains resolutely attached to the exclusively UN political process," said Hilale, adding that "Morocco remains engaged with the UN and awaits the appointment of a Personal Envoy to resume the political process of the round tables, where it left off with the former German President Horst Kohler" .

The Moroccan diplomat accused Algeria and the Polisario Front of delaying the appointment of the new UN personal envoy to the Sahara following their opposition to several proposals made by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

“We very much hope that Algeria will, this time around, agree to the next candidate, without procrastination or evasions,” he said.

Hilale called on Algeria to assume its role as a “stakeholder” in the dispute between Morocco and the Polisario.

“Why the Algerian Minister Ramtane Laamamra came to sit with us and the Personal Envoy at the last Round Table in Geneva? Why do Security Council resolutions mention Algeria five times by name? This is not because his country is a simple observer, as the representative of Algeria tries to make us believe, but because his country is indeed a main stakeholder in this regional dispute," said Hilale.

The Moroccan diplomat contradicted the misleading and false assertions of Algerian Ambassador Sofiane Mimouni about the referendum.

"As the Kingdom explained during the two round tables, and as it has repeatedly said for a long time, the referendum has indeed become obsolete. All Security Council resolutions for 21 years, following the 'failure of the settlement plan, no longer evoke, in any way whatsoever, the referendum. On the contrary, these resolutions exclusively devote the political solution, which means a negotiated solution," he said..

Human rights violations

In response to Mimouni's provocative statements at the C24 seminar about alleged human rights violations in Morocco, including in its southern provinces, Hilale exposed the catastrophic situation of human rights in Algeria and in the Tindouf camps.

In this regard, Hilale confronted the Algerian diplomat with the multiple statements of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on what she described as a serious deterioration of the human rights situation in Algeria, adding that "no country has ever been cited as many times in recent years by the High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, as Algeria."

The UN official condemned the arbitrary detention of 2,500 people last year, the unjust trials of 1,000 Algerian citizens and the forced disappearances of leaders and participants of the Hirak. No country has been pinpointed by as many independent experts and UN human rights mechanisms as Algeria, he noted.

"The Algerian representative should know that when he falsely denigrates the situation in the Moroccan Sahara, he is expressly attacking Morocco", he said.

Ambassador Hilale stated that "Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other international organizations as well as UN mechanisms have published reports that reveal the mass and systematic violations of human rights in these camps and reaffirm Algeria's direct responsibility."

He referred to the conclusions of the United Nations Human Rights Committee which stated two years ago that "Algeria is responsible, as a host country, for human rights violations that are perpetrated on its territory."

The Moroccan diplomat also denounced Algeria's refusal of the registration of the populations in captivity in the Tindouf camps, in violation of its international obligations and Security Council resolutions.

"Algeria has opposed registration for more than four decades, because it simply does not want the world to know the number of these populations. It uses the Tindouf camps as a symbol of the persistence of a conflict," he said.

Reacting to the absurd accusation by the Algerian representative that Morocco imposes the law of silence in the Moroccan Sahara, Ambassador Hilale corrected him by giving the example of separatist members who move freely from the Moroccan Sahara to Algiers and the University of indoctrination in Boumerdes, and to the camps in Tindouf.

"Morocco has extended 14 open invitations to UN human rights experts to conduct visits to Morocco, including the Sahara. How many has Algeria made?" he asked.

In response to the Algerian representative's statement concerning "the non-respect by Morocco of international law in the Sahara", the Moroccan diplomat asked "When Algeria forces a conflict on Morocco, for 45 years by a separatist group, is this not a serious violation of international law? Is it not a violation of the UN Charter? Is it not a violation of the principles of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Union?"

"It is the worst violation of international law," he added, noting that Algeria diverts humanitarian assistance intended for the populations of the Tindouf camps, as evidenced by the report of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).