Hunger strike is 'Algerian plot'

2009-12-14 19:17

Rabat - Morocco on Monday charged that Aminatou Haidar, a Sahrawi activist on hunger strike in Spain's Canary Islands, is part of a "systematic, methodical plot devised by Algeria".

Haidar, 42, has been on hunger strike for almost a month on Lanzarote, after being refused entry to the Western Sahara, which is territory occupied by and claimed by Morocco.

Algeria has long been an ally of the Polisario Front independence movement, which emerged in the Western Sahara as Spanish settlers withdrew in 1975 and Morocco annexed the territory.

Haidar, 42, is claiming her right to return to Western Sahara's main town of Laayoune and accuses the Moroccan authorities of taking away her Moroccan passport. But the Rabat government says she refused "to carry out the usual police formalities (in Laayoune) and denied her Moroccan nationality".

"This lady is at the orders of her masters," Communications Minister Khalid Naciri said on Sunday on a public television channel, adding that she was being manipulated in a "plan to divide and destabilise the region".

Asked on Monday to explain his remarks, Naciri - who is also Morocco's government spokesperson - launched into an attack on Algeria.

Algiers "is in a position of weakness in relation to the plan for autonomy drawn up by Morocco for the Western Sahara and which is welcomed by the international community," he told AFP by telephone.

Haidar's case was an "odious instrumentalisation" aimed at "attracting the sympathy of international public opinion," Naciri said, accusing Algeria of "a Cold War discourse. The Berlin Wall has fallen in Europe and another is being built by Algeria."

"We can't take the responsibility for a systematic, methodical plot devised by Algeria. Too much is too much," Naciri added when asked what Morocco planned to do about the Haidar affair.

Haidar was expelled from the Western Sahara on November 14 and began her hunger strike two days later, demanding her right to be able to return to the territory.

She has consumed only sugared water since.

Naciri described Morocco and Spain as "victims of a Machiavellian plan".