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Western Sahara denounces France plan to fund projects in disputed region

April 8, 2024 at 3:20 pm

Sand dunes, Western Sahara, Morocco [Getty]

France’s intention to use the French Development Agency (AFD) to fund projects in the disputed Sahrawi regions is a “provocative” step, Algerian state media reported on Sunday, citing a statement from Western Sahara’s Information Ministry, Reuters reports.

Morocco considers Western Sahara its own but an Algeria-backed independence movement demands a sovereign state.

“This is a dangerous escalation of France’s hostile stance towards the Sahrawi people,” the Ministry statement said, adding France’s plan “represents explicit support for Morocco’s illegal occupation of parts of Western Sahara”.

The statement came after France’s Foreign Trade Minister, Franck Riester, visited Morocco last week.

“The renewal of French-Moroccan relations will involve new bridges between our private sectors,” Riester posted on X during his visit.

According to an article in France’s Le Monde newspaper, Riester indicated that the AFD, via its private sector financing arm, Proparco, could help fund a project involving a high-voltage power line between Dakhla, Western Sahara’s capital, and the Moroccan port city of Casablanca.

“The Sahrawi government once again calls on all countries of the world and the public and private sectors to refrain from carrying out any activity of any kind in the Sahrawi national territory,” the statement from Western Sahara’s Information Ministry said.

Morocco took over most of Western Sahara in 1975 from colonial Spain. That started a guerrilla war with the Sahrawi people’s Polisario Front, which says the desert territory in the north-west of Africa belongs to it.

The United Nations brokered a ceasefire in 1991 and sent in a mission to help organise a referendum on the future of the territory, but the sides have been deadlocked since.

READ: France reiterates support for Morocco Western Sahara plan