Horst Köhler was appointed to the position after the UN Secretary General Antonio Gueterres received the OK of the Security Council and the approval of the parties to the Sahara conflict, namely Morocco, and the Polisario, which acts upon the orders of its paymaster and host, Algeria.
By opting for Kohler, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres upholds the principle of rotation in Sahara personal envoy between the US and Europe.
The new Personal Envoy actually succeeds American Christopher Ross whose tenure has expired in April after eight years of mediation that left the status quo unchanged.
Given his background, Köhler is expected to lead UN mediation in the regional dispute over the Sahara with pragmatism, unlike his predecessor Christopher Ross who showed bias in favor of Algeria and its protégé, the Polisario, and who tried to change the parameters of negotiations.
The UN spokesman’s statement announcing the appointment said, “Köhler brings more than 35 years of experience in government and international organizations, including as President of the Federal Republic of Germany (2004-2010)”.
He served as Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund between 2000 and 2004, and as President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London (1998-2000), the statement said.
Köhler also served as State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Finance (1990-1993) before being appointed President of the German Savings Bank Association (1993).
From 2012 to 2013, he served on the UN Secretary General’s High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.