'Millions' protest over Ban's take on Western Sahara

2016-03-13 21:21
Protesters hold a banner and the Moroccan flag as they chant slogans during a rally in Rabat. (Abdeljalil Bounhar, AP)

Protesters hold a banner and the Moroccan flag as they chant slogans during a rally in Rabat. (Abdeljalil Bounhar, AP)

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Rabat - Hundreds of thousands of Moroccans are demonstrating to protest the UN chief's remarks about the contested Western Sahara territory.

Morocco considers the vast mineral-rich region as its "southern provinces" and took offence when UN chief Ban Ki-moon used the word "occupation" after a visit this month to refugee camps for the region's native Sahraouis in southern Algeria.

Protesters on Sunday filled the streets of Rabat after leading Moroccan political parties, unions and non-governmental groups called for a national demonstration. Authorities claimed there were up to 3 million.

The UN has been trying for years to hold a referendum on independence for the territory, which was annexed by Morocco when Spain withdrew in 1975. Morocco proposes increased autonomy instead.

Ban also called for renewed peace efforts during his trip.

Read more on:    ban ki-moon  |  morocco

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