Morocco hits back at W Sahara rights criticism

2013-11-07 22:58
King Mohammed VI (AFP)

King Mohammed VI (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Rabat - King Mohammed VI reacted angrily to international criticism of Morocco's human rights record in the annexed Western Sahara late Wednesday, insisting the kingdom needed no lessons from anybody.

The king said the human rights situation was far worse in the small part of the former Spanish colony controlled by the pro-independence Polisario Front and in the refugee camps it runs in the Tindouf region of neighbouring Algeria.

In a speech commemorating the so-called Green March of 1975 in which Morocco sent in tens of thousands of settlers to lay claim to the territory, the king reserved particular anger for Algiers, Rabat's regional rival and the Polisario's main backer.

Morocco would not be lectured to, "particularly by those who systematically trample on human rights," he said, in a clear allusion to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika who sparked angry protests in the kingdom's economic capital Casablanca last week with a speech hitting out at its policies in the Western Sahara.

"Anybody who takes issue with Morocco only has to go down to Tindouf and check the numerous human rights violations in the surrounding area," he said in allusion to the Sahrawi refugee camps around the Algerian oasis town.

In a speech in the Nigerian capital Abuja last week, Bouteflika hit out at the "massive and systematic human rights violations that take place inside the occupied territories to suppress the peaceful struggle" of the Sahrawi people for independence.

He said international monitoring of the human rights situation was needed "now more than ever".

The Algerian leader was referring to US efforts at the UN Security Council earlier this year to give the UN peacekeeping force for the Western Sahara unprecedented human rights monitoring powers, a bid that failed in the face of intense Moroccan lobbying.

Political solution

The king made veiled criticism of the US move in his speech, which came less than a week before a visit to Rabat by US Secretary of State John Kerry on a tour that will also take him to Algiers.

"Is there a crisis of confidence between Morocco and certain decision-makers in its strategic partners on the human rights issue," he asked.

Bloody clashes erupted between pro-independence protesters and Moroccan police during a three-day visit to the Western Sahara last month by UN envoy Christopher Ross.

Earlier this year, Morocco called on UN chief Ban Ki-moon to replace Ross, accusing him of bias, but in his speech the king expressed confidence in the envoy.

He promised Morocco's "co-operation with the UN chief, his envoy and friendly countries" in their efforts to "find a definitive political solution to the conflict".

Morocco has offered wide autonomy for the Western Sahara under its sovereignty but the Polisario insists it will not give up the Sahrawi people's right to decide their own political future in a UN-supervised referendum.

The two sides have observed a UN-monitored ceasefire since 1991 but the deep divisions between Morocco, and the Polisario and its Algeria backers have prevented any lasting settlement.

Read more on:    morocco  |  north africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.