"We must get out of this situation,” the top French official stressed.
Rabat – The French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean Yves Le Drian, said Monday that France is concerned with Polisario’s blockade in Guerguerat, a town in the buffer zone along the Morocco-Mauritania border.
During a joint press briefing with his Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita, Le Drian affirmed that France is carefully following the events in Guerguerat, according to Morocco’s state media.
“We must get out of this situation,” France’s foreign minister stressed, commending Morocco’s diplomatic and responsible approach to Polisario’s provocations.
The situation in Guerguerat
In October, a group of 50 Polisario members barricaded a number of areas in Guerguerat, blocking civilian and commercial traffic.
More than three weeks later, 200 Moroccan truck drivers remained stuck in Guerguerat.
On November 5, the drivers urged Moroccan and Mauritanian authorities to come to their aid and called on “the international community, all political actors and civil society in the region, to pressure for the complete reopening of the passage and allow travelers to cross safely.”
Polisario has regularly caused disturbances in the buffer zone since August, when, in defiance of the UN, the Algeria-backed separatist front began blocking traffic across the Morocco-Mauritania border.
Photos and videos show Polisario supporters carrying separatist flags and sitting on roads to block cross-border traffic. Some photos also show Polisario members attacking officers of Morocco’s armed forces.
The maneuvers continued through October and November, despite direct condemnation from the UN secretary-general. A series of statements and his annual report on the situation in Western Sahara expressed the secretary-general’s disappointment with Polisario’s violations, which threaten regional security.
Along with top Moroccan officials such as Bourita, who said in October that “there is no political path with gangs,” King Mohammed VI denounced Polisario in his speech to mark the 45th anniversary of the Green March.
“We categorically reject the unacceptable practices designed to disrupt the normal flow of traffic between Morocco and Mauritania, change the legal and historical status of the territory east of the berm, or illegally exploit the region’s resources,” the King said Saturday.
“As ever, Morocco will not only continue to abide by and uphold logic and wisdom, but it will also respond, with the utmost firmness and resolve, to any practices or attempts designed to undermine the security and stability of its southern provinces.”
France’s support for Morocco’s Autonomy Plan, condemnation of Polisario’s violations
Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said Monday’s meeting with his French counterpart was an opportunity to give Le Drian an overview of the evolution of the Western Sahara dossier and discuss the latest UN Security Council resolution.
Le Drian reiterated France’s “constant” support for a “just, lasting and mutually agreed upon” solution to the Western Sahara dispute, under the aegis of the UN and in accordance with Security Council resolutions.
He underlined that Morocco’s Autonomy Plan is a “serious and credible basis for a negotiated solution.”
Le Drian’s remarks echo a statement France issued on October 30 after voting for Resolution 2548. France is a permanent UN Security Council member.
“France considers that the Moroccan Autonomy Plan of 2007 constitutes a serious and credible basis for discussions with a view to resuming dialogue,” the statement said.
The statement also relayed France’s “worries about the current [Polisario] blockade in the buffer zone of Guerguerat, which is likely to create tensions that could undermine the political process.”