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AU looks to UN for Western Sahara breakthrough

The African Union has renewed its resolve to seek more engagement with the United Nations to resolve the unresolved question of the Western Sahara, a territory under Moroccan control.In a communiqué at the end of the 31st AU Heads of State Summit in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott on Monday, the 54-member continental body said its members have agreed to support ongoing efforts led by the UN to broker a lasting and mutually agreeable solution to the decades-old crisis.

“To this end the AU summit has decided to establish an African mechanism comprising the AU Trioka, namely the outgoing, the current and incoming chairpersons as well as the chairperson of the commission to extend support to the UN-led efforts” the communiqué revealed.

It said encouraging parties to the crisis to demonstrate flexibility and resume talks without preconditions is the only way to addressing the protracted controversy surrounding the destiny of the enclave, which straddles Morocco in the north and Mauritania in the south.

Emerging from several hours of talks on the issue, AU leaders agreed that the UN’s role will be crucial drawing up the details that would form the basis of a durable compromise between the protagonists to the conflict, which is one of Africa’s forgotten crises.

Since the mid-1970s Morocco has been involved in a low-intensity conflict with militias under the Polisario Front, fighting  for control of the desert enclave within the Maghreb.  

In a fit of protest, the kingdom had left the AU’s forerunner, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) over the bloc’s position towards its claim to the Western Sahara.

It was readmitted back to the fold of the African Union last year following a continent-wide diplomatic offensive by Rabat aimed at reinvigorate ties with countries south of the Sahara.

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