Horst Köhler, the former Federal President, appointed as UN Special Representative
A mammoth task for the former Federal President: “In connection with the dispute over the Western Sahara, Köhler will be dealing with extremely sensitive issues.” (Press Release
According to the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), the situation in the Western Sahara will be a “mammoth task” for the Africa expert and former German President Horst Köhler. “For the new UN Special Representative for the Western Sahara, the escalating dispute over the future of the Moroccan-occupied area will be a greater challenge than his time as a Federal President,” stated Ulrich Delius, the STP’s Africa expert, in Göttingen on Friday. Morocco has become increasingly uncompromising. In the former Spanish colony, there are measures to restrict the freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate – and at the international level, there are attempts to buy support from other African governments.
“The Sahrawi people in Western Sahara are putting great trust in the former Federal President, hoping that – after sixteen years of futile efforts in the scope of MINURSO – they will finally be able to decide about their future in a free referendum,” said Delius. All his predecessors had failed to enable the native inhabitants of the Western Sahara to decide about their future in a popular vote. “Köhler will be dealing with extremely sensitive issues in connection with the dispute, which has been going on for years. We hope that he will not let himself be guided by the French interests, as France ostentatiously took sides with Morocco years ago.”
The UN has been discussing a referendum for Western Sahara since 1991. It is to be carried out by the MINURSO. However, Morocco has always rejected such a referendum, insisting that the former Spanish colony – which is rich in raw materials – is an integral part of the kingdom. The dispute with the Sahrawi people has been growing ever since Morocco started trying to force the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (which was founded by the Sahrawi people) out of the African Union. Thus, as the Sahrawi people are becoming more and more dissatisfied, the war between the Moroccan army and the Frente Polisario might break out again. The ceasefire agreement had been signed in September 1991.
Header Photo: Aurich Jeltsch-Hömmer/GfbV-Archiv