search

Independence movement pans US recognition of Morocco’s claim to Western Sahara

Algerian-backed Polisario Front group says Trump’s decision to back Rabat’s rule over disputed territory ‘changes nothing in legal terms’

A soldier holds a Sahrawi flag as a United Nations helicopter files over the Smara refugees camp near Tindouf, south-western Algeria, March 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Toufik Doudou)
A soldier holds a Sahrawi flag as a United Nations helicopter files over the Smara refugees camp near Tindouf, south-western Algeria, March 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Toufik Doudou)

ALGIERS, Algeria — The Polisario Front independence movement condemned on Thursday a declaration by US President Donald Trump backing Moroccan rule over the disputed Western Sahara region.

“The Polisario and Sahrawi government condemn in the strongest terms the fact that outgoing American President Donald Trump attributes to Morocco something which does not belong” to the country, namely sovereignty over the former Spanish colony, the Sahrawi information ministry said in a statement to AFP.

The Polisario Front is an Algerian-backed independence movement that holds a fifth of Western Sahara and has campaigned for a vote on self-determination through decades of war and deadlock.

Trump, whose mandate ends in January, said Thursday that he had agreed to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed territory, while also announcing that Morocco was normalizing relations with Israel.

Members of the Polisario Front, the organization disputing sovereignty over Western Sahara with Morocco, mourn their leader, Mohamed Abdelaziz, during his funerals held in the Rabouni refugees camp, south western Algeria, June 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Sidali Djarboub, File)

“Trump’s decision changes nothing in legal terms over the question of Sahrawi because the international community does not recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara,” the Polisario Front statement said.

“It constitutes a flagrant violation of the UN charter… and the founding principles of the African Union, and hampers the efforts of the international community in finding a peaceful solution to the conflict between the Sahrawi Republic and the Kingdom of Morocco,” it added.

The United Nations said Thursday its position was “unchanged” on the disputed region, in the wake of the US move.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres believes “the solution to the question can still be found based on Security Council resolutions,” his spokesman said.

In its statement, the Polisario urged the UN and the AU to “put pressure on the Kingdom of Morocco to put an end to its occupation of Western Sahara.”

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, right, listens to the national anthem in Laayoune, the capital of disputed territories of the Western Sahara, November 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar, file)

Tensions flared again last month between Morocco and the Polisario.

A decades-old ceasefire collapsed in mid-November after Morocco said it had sent troops into no man’s land there to reopen a road to neighboring Mauritania.

The UN-led talks between the two sides — also including Algeria and Mauritania — collapsed several months before that.

read more:
comments