Creating new perspectives since 2009

France reiterates support for Morocco Western Sahara plan

February 27, 2024 at 1:02 pm

Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita (R) and his French counterpart Stephane Sejourne attend a joint press conference at the end of a meeting in Rabat on 26 February, 2024 [FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images]

France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Sejourné has reaffirmed Paris’ “clear and constant support” for Morocco’s autonomy plan for the disputed Western Sahara. The French top diplomat made the remarks yesterday during his visit to the Kingdom as part of efforts to improve strained relations between the two countries.

In a press conference with his Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita, Sejourné noted: “This is an existential issue for Morocco. We know it.”

“Morocco can count on France’s clear and constant support for its autonomy plan,” Sejourné added, according to AFP. “We have said it before, and I say it again today even more forcefully: now is the time to move forward. I will personally see to it,” he stressed.

Sejourné also told journalists that France wants to help Morocco develop the area, conveying: “Morocco has invested a lot in development projects for the benefit of the local population and in terms of training, renewable energies, tourism and the use of ocean resources.”

Bourita, for his part, said: “France is a distinguished partner of Morocco on the political, economic and humanitarian levels.”

READ: Israel failed to convince Morocco to play a role in Gaza war: Report

Despite the comments of support from the French minister, an article in Morocco World News remains sceptical: “Sejourné’s comments did not reflect any clear French intention to support Morocco diplomatically to help end the Sahara dispute,” noting that France stopped short of emulating Spain’s decision to back the autonomy plan.

“If France really wants to ‘open a new page with Morocco’, it must first acknowledge its historical responsibility in this territorial dispute…Such a move from France would deal a quasi-deadly blow to Algeria, prompting the Algerian regime to reconsider its obstinacy to use the Sahara as a card to weaken Morocco.”

The Western Sahara, a former colony of Spain, was transferred to the control of Morocco and Mauritania in 1975. A year later, the Polisario Front, a local nationalist movement, proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic on the territory of the Western Sahara.

Since then, the Polisario Front – backed by Algeria – has been fighting the Moroccan government over control over the region.

READ: Macron, Biden call for urgent humanitarian aid to Gaza amid Israeli attacks