Morocco orders 84 UN staffers to leave Western Sahara

The United Nations says Morocco has ordered 84 international staff members in the U.N. peacekeeping mission for Western Sahara to leave within three days, in protest at comments by the U.N. secretary-general about the disputed territory. The U.N. calls Morocco's order "unprecedented."

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric on Thursday called the order a unilateral action "in clear contradiction" of Morocco's international obligations and a challenge to the U.N. Security Council, which authorized the U.N. mission.

The mission is meant to monitor a 1991 cease-fire and help organize a referendum on Western Sahara's future. That has never taken place.

The council has a closed briefing Thursday on Morocco's actions by the U.N. political chief.

Dujarric says U.N. peacekeeping officials are preparing for a number of options, including ending the mission.