On Monday, Algeria demanded the launch of “direct negotiations” between Morocco and the Polisario Front over the disputed Sahara region between the two parties.
This came in a speech by Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra at the general debate session of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, currently being held at the UN headquarters in New York.
The Algerian minister devoted a large part of his speech to talking about what he called “the Moroccan occupation of the Sahara region.”
“Algeria reiterates its permanent position on the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination and calls on the United Nations to assume its legal responsibilities towards the Sahrawi people and to guarantee their inalienable rights,” he said.
He added, “Organizing a free and fair referendum to enable these proud people to determine their destiny and determine their political future cannot forever remain hostage to the curse of an occupying country that has repeatedly failed to fulfill its international obligations emanating from the relevant Security Council resolutions.”
The Minister of Foreign Affairs affirmed that “Algeria, as a neighbor and observer of the political process, always seeks to be a source of peace, security, and stability in its neighborhood.”
And he added: “Al-Jazzar supports the decision of the African Peace and Security Council to launch direct negotiations between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic since the two countries share membership in the African Union.”
The conflict between Morocco and the Polisario over the Sahara region began in 1975, after the Spanish occupation ended its presence in the region, turning the dispute into an armed conflict that lasted until 1991, with the signing of a ceasefire agreement.
The “Polisario” unilaterally announced the establishment of what it called the “Sahrawi Arab Republic” on February 27, 1976, which was partially recognized by some countries, without obtaining membership in the United Nations.
Rabat insists on its right to the Sahara and proposes an expanded autonomy solution under its sovereignty, while the “Polisario” demands the organization of a referendum for self-determination, a proposal supported by Algeria, which hosts refugees from the region.
Relations between the two countries have been blocked for decades, against the background of the land borders closed since 1994, and the disputed Sahara region between Rabat and the Polisario Front.
On August 24, Lamamra announced that his country had decided to cut ties with Morocco due to “hostile tendencies” to Rabat, while the latter announced at the time its categorical rejection of the justifications on which Algeria built its decision.