Colombia yesterday recognised Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara.
During a visit to Rabat yesterday, Colombian Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marta Lucia Ramirez, highlighted her country’s support for Morocco’s position on the Western Sahara, adding that the Colombian embassy in the North African country will extend its jurisdiction to all “Moroccan territory, including southern provinces.”
The official also signed a Visa Exemption Agreement which will allow Colombian nationals to travel to Morocco without visas from 28 November.
Con el Canciller de Marruecos, Nasser Bourita, se logró Acuerdo de Exención de Visas, con el propósito que nuestros nacionales puedan visitar, hacer turismo y encontrar oportunidades de negocio en este país. Entra en vigor el 28 de noviembre del presente año. #ColombiaEnMarruecos pic.twitter.com/Cub7pdEmSd
— Marta Lucía Ramírez. (@mluciaramirez) October 28, 2021
Taking to Twitter she said that during a meeting with the Prime Minister of Morocca, Aziz Akhannouch, “we promised to strengthen the bilateral relationship as strategic partners, to generate economic development, employment and opportunities for young people.” Adding that Morocco could become a “hub for Colombian exports to Africa.”
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.
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.
Last year the US recognised Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara in exchange for Rabat re-establishing ties with Israel.