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Polisario Front ready to negotiate with Morocco

Image of Moroccan parliament in Rabat, Morocco [Axel Drainville/Flickr ]
Moroccan parliament in Rabat, Morocco [Axel Drainville/Flickr ]

The Polisario Front "is ready to start negotiations with Morocco on the basis of the "Sahrawi right to self-determination", Mhamed Khadad, a member of the leadership of the separatist movement confirmed this week.

Although they are also Arabs, the group say that they are fighting for self-determination of the Sahrawi people and the independence of the former Spanish colony in Morocco's Western Sahara.

The fighting has lasted for 40 years and has been met by resistance from Morocco who considers it as part of its kingdom and rejects holding an independence referendum under UN control. Rabat has instead offered autonomy for the territory but under Moroccan sovereignty which has been rejected by the Algeria-backed separatists.

Read: Morocco accuses Polisario of increasing tension on the border

Mhamed Khadad, explained during his appearance before the media in Algiers that "this conflict must be dealt with jointly by the African Union and the UN."

Image of Sahrawi refugee camp in Algeria [ProEuropean Commission/Flickr]

Image of Sahrawi refugee camp in Algeria [ProEuropean Commission/Flickr]

According to the separatist leader, the negotiations of the Polisario with Rabat should lead to "freedom and national independence" of the Western Sahara. Last week, troops from the self-proclaimed, Polisario-led Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) of Guerguerat, on the southern border of the former Spanish colony with Mauritania, were withdrawn.

Morocco similarly withdrew its troops from the region several weeks ago and the United Nations set up a monitoring centre in Guerguerat to prevent the two parties descending into conflict and backing down from demilitarisation.

Though the leadership of the Polisario have rejected the use of arms against Morocco in obtaining its independence, the younger generation who grew up in the Tindouf refugee camps may have different ideas about how to extract independence from Rabat, and this could lead to further armed conflict.

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