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UN chief: Morocco refused to withdraw from Guerguerat  border crossing

October 11, 2021 at 10:34 am

A Moroccan army officer walks near the border in Guerguerat, located in the Western Sahara, on 26 November 2020, after the intervention of the royal Moroccan armed forces in the area. [FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images]

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres revealed that Morocco has refused to withdraw from the Guerguerat border crossing.

The Moroccan government said Guterres was referring to a letter sent by King Mohammed VI on 21 November 2020 in which he confirmed the “irreversible” nature of the peaceful intervention carried out by Morocco at the Guerguerat border crossing to restore freedom of civil and commercial movement, and the kingdom’s adherence to  the ceasefire.

According to the Moroccan government, the UN chief said the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) informed the Polisario that its presence in Guerguerat constitutes a violation of Military Agreement No. 1 and demanded the withdrawal of the group’s military personnel and vehicles from the buffer zone.

Morocco has been in conflict with the Algeria-backed separatist Polisario group over the Western Sahara since 1975, after the Spanish occupation ended. It turned into an armed confrontation that lasted until 1991 and ended with the signing of a ceasefire agreement.

READ: Algeria calls for Morocco withdrawal from Western Sahara buffer area to help reach a deal

Rabat insists on its right to govern the region, but proposed autonomous rule in the Western Sahara under its sovereignty, but the Polisario Front wants a referendum to let the people determine the future of the region. Algeria has been supporting the Front’s proposal and hosts refugees from the region.

The 1991 ceasefire came to an end last year after Morocco resumed military operations in the El Guergarat crossing, a buffer zone between the territory claimed by the state of Morocco and the self-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which the Polisario said was a provocation.

By launching the operation, Morocco “seriously undermined not only the ceasefire and related military agreements but also any chances of achieving a peaceful and lasting solution to the decolonization question of the Western Sahara,” Brahim Ghali, leader of the Polisario Front, said in a letter to the UN