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Spain parliament condemns gov’t shift in position on Western Sahara

April 8, 2022 at 10:54 am

A general view of Spanish Parliament during the third day of a session held on 25 July 2019 in Madrid, Spain. [Juan Carlos Rojas – Anadolu Agency]

The Spanish parliament yesterday condemned the government’s shift in position over the Western Sahara, saying it has abandoned its “historic” neutral position on the conflict.

The Spanish parliament said the government’s actions would “practically support the path proposed by Morocco, by abandoning the basis for a political solution acceptable to both sides” of the conflict.

This is a blow to Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who suffers from complete isolation in parliament over this file and comes as he heads to Rabat, at the invitation of King Mohammed VI, to consolidate reconciliation between the two countries.

The parliament’s accused members of the government of shifting the country’s position on the Western Sahara “in contradiction with United Nations resolutions and international law,” without discussing this with parliamentarians.

It stressed that parliament supports the resolutions of the United Nations and the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

The resolution was put forward by the leftist Podemos Party, which is part of Sanchez’s government. Some 168 lawmakers voted in favour of the resolution while 118 MPs from the Socialist Party rejected it and 61 abstained.

Morocco proposes granting the Western Sahara autonomy under its sovereignty as the only solution to the conflict.

Meanwhile, the Polisario Front, backed by neighbouring Algeria, is demanding a referendum for self-determination under the supervision of the United Nations.

The Security Council calls on Morocco, the Polisario Front, Algeria and Mauritania to resume negotiations suspended since 2019, “without preconditions” for a “just, lasting and acceptable political solution.”

Last year, a diplomatic rift also broke out between Spain and Morocco when Madrid allowed the leader of Western Sahara’s separatist Polisario Front to be treated in Spain for COVID-19.

Shortly after, Moroccan authorities sat by while around 10,000 migrants crossed into Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in northern Africa.

Following the shift in the Spanish government’s position on the Western Sahara, the Moroccan ambassador returned to Madrid on 20 March and a trip by the Spanish PM was arranged.

READ: Spain’s new position on Western Sahara is a ‘victory for Moroccan diplomacy’