‘Morocco undermines UN peace mission’

The UN Secretary General has accused Morocco of spying on the world body’s monitors and restricting the UN mission’s peacekeeping efforts in the disputed region of Western Sahara. 
UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, MINURSO, is « unable to exercise fully its peacekeeping monitoring, observation and reporting functions, or avail of the authority to reverse the erosion » of its ability to function, Reuters quoted Ban Ki-moon as saying on Thursday. 
Ban’s report comes as the last round of UN-brokered negotiations between Morocco, the Polisario Front independence movement, Algeria and Mauritania on the fate of Western Sahara led to no results last month. 
« There were … indications that the confidentiality of communications between MINURSO headquarters and New York was, at least on occasion, compromised, » the report said. 
Ban called on the Security Council to assist him « in reasserting the mandated role of MINURSO, upholding peacekeeping standards and (UN) neutrality, and ensuring that the minimum conditions for the successful operation of the Mission are met ». 
Morocco’s UN mission did not respond immediately to a request for comment, the report adds. 
Meanwhile, Mustafa El-Khalfi, a Moroccan government spokesman and communication minister, said the report  » was submitted to the Security Council and we will respond to it within the United Nations ». 
The intention of the Western Sahara rebels to separate from Morocco and form their own state has sparked a row with the Moroccan government. The conflict between the two sides broke out when the Moroccan government forces took Western Sahara after Spanish colonizers left in 1975. 
Morocco and the Polisario Front reached a ceasefire in 1991, but have not yet settled their differences. 
A number of UN resolutions have urged the Moroccan government to hold a self-determination referendum in the region, but Morocco has opposed the bid, saying it will only give greater powers to the residents of Western Sahara.