Sat. Nov 27th, 2021

Bourita says the kingdom is committed to finding a solution to ‘artificial conflict’ arising from neighboring state.

Amid heightened tensions with neighboring Algeria, Morocco’s foreign minister Nasser Bourita says his country is determined to “turn the page definitively” on the Western Sahara conflict, but without violating its “legal rights” to give up on the disputed area.

Speaking to senators in Rabat on Tuesday, Bourita said Morocco was committed to finding a solution to the “artificial regional conflict arising from the opposition of a neighboring state (Algeria) against its legal rights to the exercise of its territorial integrity”.

Tensions have flared over the past few months between Morocco and its regional rival Algeria over the former Spanish colony that Rabat considers its own sovereign territory.

Algiers supports Western Sahara’s Polisario Front independence movement.

Last year, the US administration of then-President Donald Trump acknowledged Morocco’s claim to the territory in a something for something for Rabat’s normalization of ties with Israel.

The move broke with years of international consensus that Western Sahara’s future should be determined by a UN oversight referendum.

‘Non-negotiable’

Morocco’s King Mohamed VI said on Saturday that Western Sahara was “non-negotiable”, in comments that the Polisario described as “manufacturing”.

Morocco controls 80 percent of the largely desert area, which has mineral reserves and access to rich Atlantic fisheries, and offers a potentially strategic trade route that connects Morocco with West African markets.

Algeria in August break diplomatic relations with his neighbor, citing several “hostile actions” after months of accusing Morocco of action, including supporting the banned Kabylie Self-Determination Movement and behind the wildfires that raged through Algeria in the summer.

Morocco denies the allegations.

Last week, Algiers Morocco accused of killing three Algerian civilians on a desert highway, which raises fears of an escalation in the conflict.

Akram Kharief, editor of the Algerian website Mena Defense, said the Algerians were killed along a highway running through a part of Western Sahara controlled by the Polisario front.

An informed source from Morocco said it never targets civilians.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella during a visit to Algeria last week called for “proper account to be paid for the rights of the Sahrawi people” in a “fair” and UN-mediated solution to the Western Sahara conflict.

The world body has been maintaining a peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara since 1991, overseeing a recently broken ceasefire between Morocco and the Polisario, and with the aim of arranging a referendum.

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