"Few hours ahead of the third round of negotiations, the Kingdom of Morocco can only voice astonishment at what has been publicly announced or relayed by the other parties," Mr. Fassi Fihri said in a statement to MAP, insisting that "indeed, they (the other parties) cannot purport to adhere in good faith to a negotiations process while, paradoxically, they fight it and engulf it with constant threats to get back to arms, with direct encouragement to violence or still intentions to change the order on the ground, in violation of the substance and the letter of the agreements concluded, mainly relating to the cessation of hostilities (…), while keeping to stick to the anterior inapplicable and outdated plans."
The minister made it clear that "Morocco, therefore, regrettably notes the clear divergence, on the one hand, between the momentum that it has created, which is future-oriented towards regional appeasement and Maghreban integration and, on the other hand, the status quo advocated by Algeria and the Polisario, which is synonymous with decline in a Sahel-Saharan zone exposed to diverse and real menaces.”
“Algeria, after having claimed, over so many years, that the Sahara issue had nothing to do with its bilateral relations with Morocco or with building the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania), now states the opposite by strongly laying down the settlement, at the international level, of the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara as a prior condition for opening borders and normalization with the Kingdom,” Mr. Fassi Fihri said.
The four delegations of Morocco, Polisario, Algeria and Mauritania arrived, on Monday evening, in the Manhasset Greentree Estate to start preliminary consultations with the UN facilitator, Peter Van Walsum, as part of the third round of negotiations on the Sahara. The talks are due to start in earnest on Tuesday with speeches of the respective heads of delegations, followed by debates, and will go on through Wednesday.
Morocco and Polisario held two rounds of UN-sponsored talks last June and August in the same location, with Algeria and Mauritania attending as observers.
The dispute over Morocco’s Southern Provinces, the Sahara, dates back to 1976 when the separatist movement “Polisario”, backed by Morocco’s eastern neighbor, Algeria, started laying claims to the territory. The former Spanish colony was ceded to the north African country a year earlier under the Madrid Accords.