14 noviembre, 2020

Polisario Quits Western Sahara 30-Year Cease-Fire After Clashes

By November 14, 2020, 8:20 AM EST

The Polisario Front, which is seeking independence for Western Sahara, said it had officially abandoned a 1991 United Nations-backed cease-fire after clashes erupted with Moroccan forces in the disputed territory.

Polisario authorities will now “take measures to implement” provisions of a decree leader Brahim Ghali issued Saturday that calls for preparations for a “state of war,” Sahrawi Press Service reported.

The long-frozen conflict erupted on Friday as Morocco attempted to end a trade blockade by the region’s independence movement, triggering the first major clashes since the cease-fire took that effect 30 years ago. The Moroccan army said it fired anti-tank weaponry to repel an attack by the Algeria-backed Polisario Front on a military outpost in the disputed territory.

A Stalled Conflict in Sahara Risks Reigniting as Trade Blocked

Stretching along the Atlantic coast and rich in minerals, Western Sahara is larger than the U.K. and has been bitterly contested since its 1975 annexation by Morocco after the withdrawal of ex-colonial power Spain. Sporadic fighting between Morocco and Polisario claimed about 9,000 lives over 16 years.

A referendum on self-determination for the overall territory, part of the UN deal, has been continually delayed, mainly due to disputes over who would be eligible to vote.

Morocco, which saw anemic economic growth even before the Covid-19 pandemic, has pumped investment into the territory and plans a $1 billion port project.

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