Rabat - An official of the Polisario Front threatened Morocco with war Wednesday night if the country’s government did not take back its decision last week to expel segments of the U.N. peacekeeping mission that had been in the region for 25 years.
Rabat – An official of the Polisario Front threatened Morocco with war Wednesday night if the country’s government did not take back its decision last week to expel segments of the U.N. peacekeeping mission that had been in the region for 25 years.
The warning came from Mohamed Said Ould Salek, who serves as the minister of foreign affairs for the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which was founded by the separatist group in 1976.
The minister said the SADR and the Front – a movement that has been demanding independence for what Morocco called its Southern Provinces for more than 40 years – would have “no other option but war” if Morocco did not rethink its recent orders.
The mission, known by its French acronym MINURSO, brokered a peace deal between Morocco and the Front in 1991 and remained there in order to maintain the terms of an agreement that ended a 16-year war.
Morocco evicted 84 workers from the civilian wing of MINURSO in Laayoune last week and issued a new order to shut down the mission’s military liaison office in Dakhla on Monday.
The closure of the military liaison office will make it more difficult for U.N. to engage in dialogue with the Moroccan armed forces, Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for the U.N., said.
The mission’s expulsion from the region came as a reaction to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks referring to Morocco’s presence in the Sahara as an “occupation” after visiting refugee camps located near the Front’s base in Tindouf, Algeria.
Earlier this month, Ki-moon’s trip to North Africa – which included stops in Mauritania and Algeria – bypassed Morocco, reportedly because King Mohammed VI’s trip to Russia coincided with the U.N. leader’s scheduled dates in the country.