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Polisario Front slam France and Spain over independence referendum delay and demand seat at UN

THE Polisario Front accused France and Spain of impeding a referendum on independence for Western Sahara on Monday as the separatist group demanded a seat at the United Nations.

Spokesman Ould Salek said that Western Sahara, which the UN classifies a “non-governing territory,” demands its rightful place among other world nations at a press conference in Algiers.

“The Saharawi state claims its seat at the UN,” he said, accusing France of “blind support” for Morocco in delaying a referendum on independence for the disputed territory.

He accused former colonial rulers Spain of betrayal by “refusing to assume its historic responsibilities towards the Saharawi people.”

Morocco occupied much of Western Sahara in 1975, while it was still a Spanish colony. Along with neighbouring Mauritania, it signed the Madrid Accords with Spanish dictator Francisco Franco a week before he died.

The deal ignored the wishes of the Saharawi people, represented by the Polisario Front.

Mauritania dropped its claims in 1979, but Morocco then occupied the rest of the territory, insisting that Western Sahara was an integral part of the country.

In 1991, the United Nations brokered a ceasefire on the basis that Morocco would hold a referendum on independence. But Rabat reneged on the agreement and subsequent promises, instead offering regional autonomy to Africa’s last colony.

Moroccan forces entered the Guergerat buffer-zone in November last year, a move deemed “an act of war” by the Polisario Front and a breach of the 1991 agreement.

Tensions were inflamed further by the former US president Donald Trump, who recognised Morocco’s claim to the disputed territory in return for Rabat normalising relations with Israel.

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