The event organizers reportedly declined to renounce their recognition of the false entity.
Rabat – Morocco has formally withdrawn from “The Cookout Africa” after the event organizers listed the self-styled Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) among the participating “countries.”
American musician and acclaimed Grammy-nominated songwriter Vincent Berry established The Cookout Africa as a musical writing competition. Several Moroccan artists registered for the competition and intended to participate.
That is, until last Wednesday, when the event’s promotional video included the self-proclaimed SADR in the list of countries eligible to send artists to compete.
Since 1975, the militant Polisario Front has sought to establish an “independent state” in Western Sahara in southern Morocco.
The Moroccan artists are furious that their intention to participate in a competition that recognized the self-styled SADR could have been interpreted as their own endorsement of the false entity.
A joint press release from the Moroccan artists who were blindsided by the promotional video stressed that “the organizers of Cookout Africa have been warned of the aberration of this situation.”
“They were informed that it was inadmissible to promote a fictitious entity that does not meet the constitutional requirements and that it is rather an armed separatist movement that threatens the safety and security of North Africa in general and Morocco in particular,” said the press release.
The event organizer, Kenya-based “PHAT! Africa” entertainment, reportedly told the Moroccans that the name of the separatist entity cannot be removed and that they consider it a state in its own right.
The Moroccan artists’ press release stressed that the hosts’ stance is not consistent with the history and reality of the Western Sahara region, where Polisario militias recently escalated tensions and breached the 1991 UN ceasefire with Morocco.
Since October 21, Polisario elements had staged a blockade of the Guerguerat border crossing between Morocco and Mauritania.
Despite the border post being in the UN-monitored buffer zone, the UN failed to calm the situation. For weeks, the militant group ignored a series of UN messages warning it to withdraw from the area, prompting a response from Morocco.
On November 13, Morocco’s armed forces carried out a successful non-offensive operation in the presence of UN observers to secure the vital border crossing.
Yearning for international attention, Polisario seized Morocco’s peaceful action as an opportunity to flare up tensions and declare “war.” Hours within Morocco’s action in Guerguerat, the militant group launched attacks against Moroccan positions. But the assaults, which the Moroccan military easily contained, were ultimately non-fatal.
For Morocco’s artists who withdrew from “The Cookout Africa,” the event’s organizers’ recognition of Polisario’s self-style “republic” amounts to legitimizing the group’s destabilizing aggression in the region.
With Polisario’s warmongering rhetoric on full display in the aftermath of the Guerguerat crisis, they argued, it is alarming and unacceptable that organizers of The Cookout Africa could elect to recognize the entity the militant separatists claim to represent.