It was a dormant conflict. The separatists of the Polisario Front announced on Friday the end of a 30-year-old ceasefire in Western Sahara, after Morocco launched a military operation in a buffer zone of this disputed territory.
UN chief Antonio Guterres said he “regretted” that his efforts in recent days to “avoid an escalation” had failed. Mauritania and Algeria, neighboring countries involved in stalled political negotiations since 2019, called for restraint.
France also called on Friday to “do everything to avoid escalation” in Western Sahara after the launch of a military operation by Morocco in the territory and the announcement by the independence movement Front Polisario of the end of a ceasefire. -the fire dating from 1991.
Before dawn, Moroccan troops launched an operation in the buffer zone of Guerguerat, in the extreme south of the former Spanish colony to put in place “a security cordon to secure the flow of goods and goods. people, ”according to a statement from the staff. The operation which took place “under the eyes of MINURSO”, the UN interposition forces, gave rise in the morning to exchanges of fire but without “human damage”, according to the same source. . “The war has started. Morocco has liquidated the cease-fire ”which had been in force since 1991, accused the head of diplomacy of the Sahrawi movement of the Polisario, Mohamed Salem Ould Salek.
In the evening, the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that “Morocco remains firmly attached to the ceasefire”. The operation is not “offensive” but reflects “the firmness and determination of King Mohamed VI to find a final settlement” in the face of “provocations” from the Polisario, said the head of Moroccan diplomacy, Nasser Bourita earlier.
Rabat denounces “acts of banditry”, the Polisarion cries out for “aggression”
Rabat accuses “the Polisario and its militias” of carrying out for three weeks “acts of banditry”, of blocking traffic and “continually harassing the military observers of Minurso” at Guerguerat. The Polisario denounces the existence of the road to Guerguerat which Rabat considers essential for its exchanges with sub-Saharan Africa.
The separatists condemned the “aggression” of Morocco. “The Sahrawi troops find themselves in a situation of self-defense and are responding to the Moroccan troops”, declared Mohamed Salem Ould Salek. On Monday, the Polisario threatened to end the ceasefire agreement if Morocco introduced troops or civilians into the buffer zone of Guerguerat.
This region has already been at the center of strong tensions between the Polisario, a movement supported by Algeria, and Morocco, which have been fighting for decades over the desert territory, despite the UN’s settlement efforts. Morocco controls 80% of the former colony, its phosphate deposits and its fish-bearing waters in its western part, along the Atlantic Ocean. He wants “autonomy under control” of the territory, where major Moroccan development projects have been launched in recent years. The Polisario, which proclaimed a Sahrawi Republic (SADR) in 1976, militates for independence and calls for a referendum of self-determination.
Original article by : www.leparisien.fr