Friday 12/4/20
PRO-INDEPENDENCE

Polisario Front quits decades-old Western Sahara ceasefire

In 1975, Morocco took over Western Sahara after Spain withdrew from the region. The Polisario Front, which is backed by Algeria, demands an independence vote.

Undated image of battle tanks issued by the Polisario Front through its website.
Undated image of battle tanks issued by the Polisario Front through its website.

The Polisario Front movement, which seeks the independence of North Africa's disputed Western Sahara, have declared a withdrawal from a ceasefire signed with Morocco in 1991 after the latter launched a military operation in a border area, according to media reports on Saturday.

On Saturday, the Polisario Front issued a new "war report" in which it claimed to have bombed two Moroccan military bases.

On Friday, Morocco said it launched an operation to restore free movement of civilian and commercial traffic in the Guerguerat buffer zone, near the Mauritanian border, and accused the Polisario Front of blocking the border crossing there.

The route is an important link between Morocco and Mauritania.

Brahim Ghali, the president of the self-styled Saharawi Republic and the Polisario secretary general, announced an end to a commitment to the ceasefire, the pro-Polisario Shara news agency SPS reported Saturday.

Ghali accused Morocco of violating the ceasefire by attacking “peaceful demonstrators” in the zone.

Morocco said Polisario's moves in the area since October 21 "constitute deliberate acts to destabilize the region and a real threat to the sustainability of the ceasefire," according to the Moroccan official MAP news agency.

Border crossing "secured"

The Moroccan military has said that the border crossing had been fully secured on orders from King Mohammed VI and that no casualties resulted from the operation, MAP reported.

Polisario fighters had attacked several Moroccan sites in the area on Friday in response to the Moroccan operation, SPS reported without details.

In 1975, Morocco took over Western Sahara after Spain withdrew from the region and claims the phosphate-rich area as part of its territory.

The Polisario Front, which is backed by Algeria, demands an independence vote. Morocco has refused the demand.

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