No solution to W. Sahara dispute without Algeria: Morocco

Ongoing dispute over Western Sahara cannot be resolved without Algerian ‘engagement’, Moroccan government says
MARRAKESH, Morocco: The Moroccan government on Friday said there could be no resolution of the decades-long dispute over the Western Sahara region without “engagement” by Algeria.
“A solution to the Western Sahara dispute cannot be envisioned without genuine engagement by Algeria, which is largely responsible for the continuation of the dispute,” government spokesman Mustafa al-Khalfi said Friday.
Al-Khalfi made the assertions at a government-organized conference in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh devoted exclusively to the Western Sahara issue.
The three-day conference is being attended by Moroccan government officials, academics and civil society activists.
Last month, Algeria summoned the Moroccan ambassador following accusations by Rabat that Algiers was facilitating Iranian support for the Polisario Front, a separatist group that calls for the region’s independence.
Occupied by Spain until 1975, Western Sahara — a large territory in southern Morocco — has remained the subject of dispute between Rabat and the Algeria-backed separatist Polisario Front for more than four decades.
Since the early 1970s, the Polisario Front, a self-proclaimed national liberation movement, has demanded an independent state in Western Sahara.
While Rabat says the region is an “integral part” of Morocco, it has nevertheless proposed a system by which Western Sahara might enjoy a degree of autonomy while formally remaining under Moroccan sovereignty.
The Polisario Front, for its part, wants to see a popular referendum held in Western Sahara to decide the region’s political fate.–AA

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