Morocco wants UN peacekeeping forces out of Western Sahara
Mar 22, 2016 02:32 AM EDT
Morocco is trying to expel military staff from its peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara. They are now ordering civilian staff to protest against the UN secretary general's remarks
According to The Wall Street Journal, the protest started when U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the word "occupation" as he described the Moroccan's annexation of the Western Sahara. The secretary general used this word to describe the refugee camps in Algeria for the Sahrawi's, the region's native inhabitants.
As reported by Reuters, Stephane Dujarric, UN spokesman, received a request from Morocco telling them to remove all the 84 civilian staff from the U.N and the African Union on the Western Sahara. Dujarric added that all of these measures will affect the function of the mission known as MINURSO.
Farhan Haq, the UN deputy spokesman accused Morocco of acting illogically which escalates the tension and is against the purpose of UN. He further hopes that Morocco will realized that these types of behaviors will not be tolerated.
In 1975, Morocco occupied the Western Sahara and fought against a local independence group known as the Polisario Front until UN came in and started a ceasefire in 1991. The peace and order of the area has always been monitored by the peacekeeping forces as per ABC News.
Morocco has always considered the Western Sahara as its southern province and wanted a wide range autonomy for the region. The Polisario Front on the other hand insist on self-determination through a referendum for the local population. The referendum was never pushed through due to disputes over its voters list.
Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, the Polisario Front foreign ministe, said the action made by Morocco is irresponsible and could end the MINURSO mission. He added that because of this, Morocco stirs up the tension and encourages the Sahrawi people to take up arms again. There will be increased tension and possible conflict if the UN leaves said the foreign minister.
U.N, however, has been constantly talking with Morocco and other concerned countries to try and relieve the tensions that are building up.