This blog is no longer active, but I continue to post at the group blog MAGHREB POLITICS REVIEW.

Aug 28, 2008

Van Walsum is out

Peter van Walsum’s mandate as the personal envoy of the UN secretary-general for Western Sahara has now expired, and it has not been renewed.

POLISARIO’s refusal to negotiate under his supervision, and their stalling techniques, have had effect, and Morocco's autonomy proposal now loses its most important ally. Serious negotiations are not realistically going to resume until the presidential issues in the USA, and perhaps Algeria, have been settled; it's an open question whether or when a new non-temporary envoy will be appointed before that.

Van Walsum fires a parting shot against POLISARIO in El País, similar to earlier ones. It is available in English at the newspaper’s website.


Justin (koavf) said...

While it's good that he's gone, I don't know that anyone can really do this job. Someone like Baker was actually committed to the process and ending the stalemate, but he was hamstrung by the mandate of MINURSO. I believe that van Walsum was actually looking to find some resolution as well and he was genuine - if grossly untactful - in his role.

alle said...

I think so too, but I also think he was doing a poor job at it, by starting bilateral non-directed negotiations as a replacement for the UN process. Tact was never the big problem (although it provided his opponents with a good method to block his mission), but rather that he threw out what little influence the UN had managed to get over the parties through the referendum- & assorted agreements. Now the conflict is back to a naked power struggle, which is good for clarity of vision, but not for much else.

As for his "realism" comments, they were of course undiplomatic, but not necessarily the wrong thing to say in the situation he was in, trying to get where he was trying to get.

alle said...

Baker, btw, I think was backstabbed by the Bush administration, more or less. He had a very strongly supported plan, and he could have got support to ram it through (or at least get a lot further with it), but he didn't. In 2004, the White House simply stopped backing it and it died.

van Kaas said...

The article in El País by van Walsum made it clear to me he is simply anti-Polisario, and that should not have suprised me for he is the kind of oldschool NATO coldwar anti-communist one can find many in the dusty kingdom of the Netherlands. I consider him a dalang whose strings were in the knot and then fell through the screen. Bad show!

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