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PM: Rabat hopes Algeria’s new rulers will reopen border

Prime Minister of Morocco Saadeddine Othmani makes a speech during monthly ordinary congress meeting in Rabat, Morocco on 15 May, 2018 [Jalal Morchidi/Anadolu Agency]
Prime Minister of Morocco Saadeddine Othmani makes a speech during monthly ordinary congress meeting in Rabat, Morocco on 15 May, 2018 [Jalal Morchidi/Anadolu Agency]

Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani has voiced hope that Algeria’s new rulers will soon reopen the border between the two countries after 25 years of closure, Anadolu Agency reports.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down last month after weeks of popular protest against his 20-year rule.

The army is now overseeing a 90-day interim period, during which it has promised to hold presidential elections.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Othmani voiced hope that Algeria’s post-Boutelfika rulers “won’t follow the former regime’s policy of fierce competition with Morocco”.

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Morocco-Algeria relations “can’t be worse than they were under Bouteflika”, he said, adding: “The former regime was very hostile to Morocco.”

The two countries’ shared border has been sealed since 1994, when — in the wake of a terrorist attack — Rabat began requiring travel visas from Algerian nationals.

Algiers responded to the move by unilaterally closing its border with its neighbour to the west.

Rabat also accuses Algeria of supporting the Polisario Front, a separatist group that calls for the independence of Morocco’s Western Sahara region.

*Writing by Mahmoud Barakat

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