Morocco caused hunger strike

2009-12-13 23:45

Madrid - Spain's government on Sunday vowed to press Rabat over the demands of Western Sahara activist Aminatou Haidar, who has been on hunger strike for almost a month to force Morocco to allow her to return home.

"The government will not give up and will continue to press both diplomatically and politically for Mrs Haidar's return to her territory and her home," said Manuel Chaves, a deputy prime minister.

"We are asking the government of Morocco to assume its responsibilities because it is the government of Morocco which created this problem," he told Spain's Cadena Ser radio.

Haidar launched a hunger strike at an airport in Spain's Canary Islands on November 16 after Rabat denied her entry to her native Western Sahara, a disputed territory annexed by Morocco in 1975.

The 42-year-old mother of two, who campaigns for Western Sahara's independence, was returning to her hometown of Laayoune after a trip to receive a human rights award in the United States.

Chaves insisted that her readmission to Spain was "completely legal" even though she was returning without a passport, which was allegedly confiscated by Moroccan authorities.

Morocco says it will not allow Haidar to return, saying she had rejected her Moroccan nationality and passport.

Morocco annexed the Western Sahara following the withdrawal of colonial power Spain in the dying days of the regime of right-wing dictator Francisco Franco, sparking a war with the Algeria-backed Polisario Front movement.

The two sides agreed to a ceasefire in 1991, but UN-sponsored talks on its future have since made no headway.

Morocco has pledged to grant the phosphate-rich territory widespread autonomy, but rules out independence.