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Washington / Morocco News Board ---The Moroccan government lost confidence in the ability of Mr. Christopher Ross, the United Nations Secretary General (UNSG) personal envoy for Western Sahara, to mediate a solution to the Western Sahara conflict.
Rabat has been lobbying behind the scene to get Mr. Ross dismissed. Unconfirmed press stories out of the United Nations are reporting on an eminent announcement by the UNSG regarding Mr. Ross removal and his replacement by a German diplomat.
According to several press reports published in the Moroccan and Spanish media, Mr. Saad El Dine Othmani, Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, asked Mr. Ban Ki-moon to sack his envoy to the Western Sahara.
During his visit with the UNSG , Mr. Othmani expressed " the Kingdom 's concerns over Mr. Ross' biases and attempts to distort the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) mission" reported the Moroccan daily "Akhbar Al-Youm". The Moroccan diplomat relayed the same concerns about Mr. Ross's partiality during his visits to Washington and Paris.
Several Moroccan diplomatic sources have hinted that Mr. Ross has lost the confidence of the Moroccan side suggesting that his efforts as a UNSG envoy to the region have failed. Mr. Christopher Ross , an expert in the politics of the region, is a former U.S. ambassador in Algiers and was the director of the American Cultural Center in Fez, Morocco.
The point of contention seems to be Ross's latest report to the U.N. Security Council on the situation in the Western Sahara in which the former American diplomat accused the Moroccans of spying on the MUNIRSO.
However, Mr. Ross suggestion to expand the role of the MINURSO to include human rights monitoring in the Moroccan control Sahara drew the sharpest rebuke from the Moroccan diplomats in New York and Rabat.
The Moroccan government considers the touchy issue of expanding the role of the MINURSO to include human rights monitoring as an infringement in their sovereignty and a one sided approach to dealing with rights violation in the Moroccan controlled Sahara without addressing "sever" civil and human rights abuses in the Algeria controlled refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria.
Mr. Ross has shown "irreparable" prejudice" by omitting from his latest report explicit language denouncing Algeria's refusal to let UNHCR scrutinize the nationalities and status of the refugees in the Tindouf camps, Moroccan diplomats contend. In a clear violation of United Nation chart and international humanitarian law, the Algerian government has warehoused unknown number of refugees in the Algerian desert without access to independent humanitarian organizations.
Since the beginning of Mr. Ross mission, the MINURSO has been reporting on the human rights situation on the Moroccan side without addressing the lack of freedom of movement, association and expression in the Algerian controlled Sahrawi refugee camps.
Moroccan officials are infuriated with Mr. Ross assertion that Sahrawi population in Laayoune, the Sahara largest city, are prohibited from talking to the UN personnel, while in fact, thousands of Sahrawi refugees in Tindouf have been barred from leaving their camps and traveling freely outside a military zone for the last thirty five years.
Moroccan diplomats find Mr. Ross report "hypocrite" considering that the MUNIRSO's mission is to help conduct a referendum on the final status of the Western Sahara and yet Mr. Ross could not get the Algerian government to agree to a census of the refuge population, a prerequisite to any plebiscite.
Christopher Ross replaced the Dutch diplomat Peter van Walsum whose mandate expired in 2009. Mr. van Walsum was let go after he qualified the Algerian position calling for the independence of the Western Sahara as unrealistic.
By Hassan Masiky