UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council on Wednesday renewed the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for twelve months.
In Resolution 2494, adopted in a 13-0 vote, the 15-member council extended MINURSO's mandate till Oct. 31, 2020. Russia and South African abstained in the vote.
The resolution emphasized the need to achieve "a realistic, practicable and enduring political solution to the question of Western Sahara based compromise."
Western Sahara has been contested since 1975 and where Morocco and the Polisario independence movement fought a war until a 1991 ceasefire.
Western Sahara was partitioned between Morocco and Mauritania at the end of Spain's colonial rule in 1976. When Mauritania, under pressure from Polisario guerrillas, abandoned all claims to its portion in August 1979, Morocco moved to occupy that sector and has since asserted administrative control over the whole territory. Fighting broke out between Morocco and the Polisario Front, which is fighting for the independence of Western Sahara.
A ceasefire was signed in 1991. MINURSO was deployed that year to monitor the ceasefire and to organize, if possible, a referendum on self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.
Wednesday's resolution expressed support for the incoming personal envoy of the UN secretary general to sustain the renewed negotiations process in order to achieve a solution to the Western Sahara question.
Former Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General Horst Kohler resigned on May 22. He had convened two roundtables since December 2018 with Morocco, the Polisario Front, Algeria, and Mauritania, first such meetings since 2012.
In their explanatory remarks after the vote, many Council members called for early appointment of Kohler's successor in order to build on the momentum he had achieved.
Many council members also expressed gratitude for the efforts made by UN Secretary-General' Special Representative for Western Sahara Colin Stewart and the MINURSO team.