Rabat - A Moroccan phosphate shipment bound has been held in Panama following a maritime court order issued by the Polisario Front claiming the cargo had been transported illegally.
Rabat – A Moroccan phosphate shipment bound has been held in Panama following a maritime court order issued by the Polisario Front claiming the cargo had been transported illegally.
The Danish charter vessel Ultra Innovation was carrying 55,000 tons of phosphate to Vancouver, Canada for the fertilizer supplier Agrium.
The court order is the second attempt in what appears to be a new strategy by Polisario to put economic pressure on Morocco, who it claims “has been exploiting the resources of the Western Sahara illegally.”
Earlier this month, a similar quantity shipment of phosphate was detained at Port Elizabeth, South Africa, by a Polisario maritime claim.
Citing UN conventions, Samir Bennis writes that a detention can only be justified “in the event the ship traversing the territorial waters of other state may constitute a threat to the peace, security or good order of the coastal state, threaten its territorial integrity or political independence, engages in activities such military exercises, conduct surveys or research activities, engages in acts of ‘of willful and serious pollution contrary to this Convention,’ ‘the loading or unloading of any commodity, currency or person contrary to the customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations of the coastal State’.”
Reuters writes that Polisario is using the two issued court claims to “test” a European court ruling that forbade EU member states from purchasing resources Morocco had extracted from the Western Sahara.
Neither Canada nor New Zealand, the two destinations of the held shipments, are members of the EU.
Polisario issued the first complaint against the ship in South Africa immediately following the UN Security Council’s vote to approve the latest resolution on Western Sahara, which Bennis called “very favorable” to Morocco.