Polisario urges UN to press for Western Sahara referendum

Polisario Front leader Mohamed Abdelaziz on Monday urged the UN to press Morocco to accept holding a referendum on the status of Western Sahara, following talks with envoy Christopher Ross.

AFP| Last Updated: Feb 17, 2015, 10:40 AM IST

Algiers: Polisario Front leader Mohamed Abdelaziz on Monday urged the UN to press Morocco to accept holding a referendum on the status of Western Sahara, following talks with envoy Christopher Ross.

"We call on the United Nations to put pressure on Morocco to make arrangements to organise a referendum on self-determination" for the disputed territory, he told Algerian public television.

The leader of the group seeking independence for Western Sahara met with Ross on Sunday in a Sahrawi refugee camp in the Tindouf region of southwest Algeria.

The UN envoy for Western Sahara on Monday wound up a visit to the region -- his first in a year -- that started last Wednesday in the Moroccan capital.

Morocco accused Ross in 2012 of being partial in the dispute over the former Spanish colony but in late January said it was ready to support his mediation efforts.

Morocco took control of most of Western Sahara in November 1975 when Spain withdrew, prompting a Polisario-led guerrilla war for independence until 1991 when the United Nations brokered a ceasefire and sent in a peace mission.

Sahrawis have long campaigned for the right to self-determination but most Moroccans now view the territory as a part of their kingdom.

Rabat wants talks on self-rule for the territory under Moroccan sovereignty. But the Algerian-backed Polisario Front demands a referendum that would include the option of full independence.