The Moroccan diplomat’s declaration came in response to provocative statements by the Algerian president, challenging Morocco’s territorial integrity.
Rabat – A neighboring country continues to fuel separatism and divert resources from its population for acts of regional destabilization, said Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita.
NAM is a forum of 120 developing countries that are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. It is the second-largest grouping of states worldwide after the UN.
During his speech, delivered by videoconference, Bourita “regretted that despite the exceptional current circumstances, a neighboring country continues to fuel separatism, in violation of founding principles of NAM.”
“This country, instead of using its resources to improve the precarious situation of its population in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, diverts them to fuel regional destabilization,” said Bourita.
The statement came after the Algerian delegation brought up the issue of Western Sahara during the virtual meeting.
The Moroccan diplomat’s remarks also followed Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s reaffirmation of his country’s support for the separatist Polisario Front during a televised interview on Saturday, May 2.
During the interview, Tebboune said Algeria is a “free country” and will continue “to defend causes, like the Palestinian cause and the Western Sahara conflict.”
The Algerian president made the statement to justify his refusal to accept international loans while his country is facing an economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Tebboune, foreign debt affects national sovereignty.
“I personally think that the absence of international debt is a strengthening mechanism amid the COVID-19 crisis,” he said.
In late April, Spanish newspaper Atalayar reported that Tebboune decided to remove certain powers from the Algerian army, including its influence over foreign policy and intelligence.
The move gave Tebboune control over the Western Sahara file, establishing the Algerian Agency for International Cooperation (AACI) to oversee developments in the conflict.
Since 1975, Algeria has been one of the main supporters of the self-styled Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic’s (SADR) independence claim, challenging Morocco’s territorial integrity.
Algeria provides both arms and funding to the Polisario Front, SADR’s military branch, and refuses to be considered as a party to the Western Sahara conflict.
Morocco has repeatedly called on the Algerian diplomacy to take part in the UN-led political process to find a mutually acceptable political solution to the conflict, while Algeria insists it is only an observer.
However, UN Security Council Resolutions 2440 (October 2018), 2468 (April 2019), and 2494 (October 2019) have all referenced Algeria as a party to the Western Sahara conflict, which led towards a round-table process including Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, and the Polisario Front.
The four parties have met twice–once in December 2018 and once in March 2019–at a round table in Geneva, Switzerland. At the end of the second meeting, Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, and the Polisario Front agreed to meet again in the same format.