Tensions rise between Morocco and Polisario Front

THE King of Morocco, Mohamed VI, has promised the UN that they will maintain their ceasefire in the Sahara conflict following incidents with the Polisario Front.

Mohamed VI spoke on the phone to UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, the Moroccan Royal Palace reported in a statement, and was also adamant that he would react with “great severity” within the limits of legitimate defence, if there was any threat to the safety of his country or citizens.

The Moroccan army entered the demilitarized area of Guerguerat, in the Western Sahara, to expel a group of around 50 civilians who had been blocking the road since October 21.

In the operation, the Moroccan forces and the Polisario Front exchanged fire, which had not occurred since the ceasefire was signed in 1991. The following morning, the Sahrawi organization formally declared the ceasefire had been broken and that they were at war with Morocco.

They have since issued “war reports” claiming to have attacked several Moroccan military posts, saying there had been fatalities and material losses.

Meanwhile, Morocco has denied this and the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in the Western Sahara has failed to comment.

Circulation of traffic in Guerguerat is now reportedly back to normal and King Mohamed VI said that the Moroccan army would take the “necessary measures” to ensure this continued to be the case.

The Polisario Front, which has the support of Algeria, had been threatening for some time to take up arms against Morocco again.

In 1975, during conflict with Spain, Morocco invaded what was then Spain’s 53rd province.

In 1991, a peace agreement was signed, but the referendum promised to the area is yet to be held. Morocco controls three quarters of the 266,000 km2 territory and refuses to give them independence. Morocco has the support of France, the USA and Spain, who on paper is still in charge of the area.

Last year, the UN Special Envoy in the area, Horst Kohler, resigned for health reasons and since then there have been no further steps taken.

Algeria this week sent two military planes with 60 tonnes of humanitarian aid to the Sahrawi refugee camps which have been in Tinduf since 1975.

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Jennifer Leighfield

Jennifer Leighfield, born in Salisbury, UK; resident in Malaga, Spain since 1989. Degree in Translation and Interpreting in Spanish, French and English from Malaga University (2005), specialising in Crime, Forensic Medicine and Genetics. Published translations include three books by Richard Handscombe. Worked with Euro Weekly News since November 2006. Well-travelled throughout Spain and the rest of the world, fan of Harry Potter and most things ‘geek’.