Western Sahara slams France and Spain for supporting Morocco
The foreign minister of Western Sahara, a disputed territory on the northwest coast of Africa, has demanded a UN seat for his nation and accused France and Spain of impeding a referendum on self-determination.
The status of Western Sahara, which the United Nations classifies as a "non-self-governing territory", has for decades pitted Morocco against the pro-independence Polisario Front.
Polisario is a rebel movement of the Sahrawi people living
in the western part of the Sahara Desert. Its aim is to end Moroccan presence
in the Western Sahara.
Morocco has held Western Sahara since Spain quit it in 1975 and regards it as part of its territory.
"The Sahrawi state claims its seat at the UN," Western Sahara's foreign minister Mohamed Salem Ould Salek said on Monday.The republic, as a founding member of the African Union,
"demands its rightful place" among world nations, he told a news
conference in Algiers, allies of the Polisario.
Ould Salek protested at what he called France's "blind support" for Morocco in stalling a referendum on the land, a vast desert expanse of 266,000 square kilometres (100,000 square miles).
As for Spain, he accused the former colonial power of "betrayal" and "refusing to assume its (historic) responsibilities" towards the Sahrawi people.
Morocco claims the entire territory and controls 80 percent, with a huge sand berm and UN peacekeepers separating a Polisario-held enclave in the east.
In November, the Polisario announced it regarded a 1991 ceasefire as null and void, after Morocco sent troops into a UN-patrolled buffer zone to reopen a key road.
Morocco repressing activists in Western Sahara after normalization with Israel
Activists in Western Sahara say they are facing a brutal crackdown by Morocco following the normalization deal between the North African nation and Israel.
The United States recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara — where pro-independence sentiments run high — as a gift following its normalization with Israel.
Activists sais in February that Washington’s decision on December 10, 2020, to recognize Morocco’s territorial claim to Western Sahara had emboldened Rabat to harass ordinary people and those critical of the move.
Following the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Sudan, Morocco became the fourth Arab country late last year to reach a normalization agreement with Israel, which was brokered by the administration of ex-US president Donald Trump during its final days in office.
As part of the contentious deal, Trump agreed to recognize Morocco’s authority in Western Sahara, which has been at the center of a decades-old territorial row between Morocco and the Polisario Front.