It’s now official. Antonio Guterres appointed, this Wednesday, October 6, Staffan de Mistura, new personal envoy of the UN Secretary General for Western Sahara. The Italo-Swede succeeds the German Horst Köhler who had, as a reminder, tendered his resignation in May 2019, officially for “health reasons”.
A designation that was predictable, especially after the lifting by Morocco of the last reservations on this candidacy. The kingdom’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Omar Hilale even covered De Mistura with praise, calling him “the UN’s foundation in its efforts for the peaceful settlement of disputes” in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa. .
A green light which then enabled the UN Secretary General to begin consultations with members of the Security Council in mid-September for the appointment of Staffan de Mistura. As a reminder, his candidacy was put forward last April.
In his new role as UN envoy, De Mistura faces the challenge of bringing the parties back to the dialogue. Morocco has already set its conditions, demanding the effective presence of Algeria in the next round tables in Geneva as a stakeholder in the conflict. However, the neighbor to the East never tires of claiming only the status of “observer country” and calls instead for “direct negotiations” between Morocco and the Front. A call reiterated last week by Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra from the rostrum of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
For its part, the Polisario has already expressed doubts about the success of the Italo-Swede in his mission. He “remains tied up by the road map that the Security Council will draw up for him (…) The appointment – although important – of a special envoy of the UN Secretary General for Western Sahara is not a strategic objective major in itself ”, explained the representative of the Polisario in Europe, Oubi Bouchraya Bachir in statements to the press.
To these major challenges is added another sizeable one: Will the new envoy for Western Sahara manage to convince the Polisario to respect, once again, the ceasefire of 1991?