A demonstration in Madrid denouncing Spain's support for Morocco in the conflict over Western Sahara

A demonstration in Madrid denouncing Spain's support for Morocco in the conflict over Western Sahara  Madrid: About two thousand people demonstrated in Madrid, Saturday, to support Western Sahara and demand the right of the former Spanish colony to self-determination, a few days after the Spanish government announced its support for Morocco in this conflict.  The decision of Spanish Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to support the Rabat plan regarding the dispute over the territory of Western Sahara put an end to an ambiguous diplomatic position that lasted nearly a year.  Several banners denounced the decision, including “Sánchez is a traitor,” “The Sahrawis decide, they are not a bargaining chip in your hand,” “The Sahara is not for sale.”  "This is the last betrayal committed by the Spanish government," said Pablo Marin, 63, who was standing among the Saharan flags and the flags of the radical left-wing Podemos, an ally of Sanchez in the ruling coalition.  After Madrid committed itself to neutrality, it announced eight days ago its support for the Moroccan autonomy plan for Western Sahara, a vast desert region rich in phosphates and with waters full of fish. Rabat has been contesting it with the Polisario Front, which is backed by Algeria, since the Spanish withdrew from it in 1975.  The Spanish announcement comes after a diplomatic crisis that began in April 2021 with Spain receiving the leader of the Polisario Front, Ibrahim Ghali, the archenemy of Rabat, for treatment from Covid-19.  The situation worsened a month later, with the arrival of about ten thousand immigrants of Moroccan origin within hours to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on the northern coast of Morocco, after Morocco eased border controls. The local authorities said that the demonstrators coming to Madrid on Saturday from all over Spain numbered about two thousand.  Fatima Hamida, a 20-year-old student from Zamora in the northwest of the country, came to oppose "Pedro Sanchez's decision and to demonstrate for our freedom and our right to self-determination of our land."  Salome Ibrahim, a 28-year-old merchant, expressed his anger, saying that the Sahrawis were "a bargaining chip in the face of the interests of the Kingdom of Morocco."  “No one knows why,” he said, adding that Spain suddenly changed its position, and “this is a problem,” after Madrid remained neutral with the withdrawal of the Spaniards from there, for nearly fifty years.  The conflict in Western Sahara, which the United Nations considers a "non-independent territory", has pitted Morocco against the decades-old Algeria-backed Polisario Front separatists.  Rabat, which controls about 80 percent of the region, is proposing an autonomy plan under its sovereignty, while the Polisario Front calls for a referendum for self-determination, stipulated in the cease-fire agreement signed in 1991.(AFP)

Madrid: About two thousand people demonstrated in Madrid, Saturday, to support Western Sahara and demand the right of the former Spanish colony to self-determination, a few days after the Spanish government announced its support for Morocco in this conflict.

The decision of Spanish Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to support the Rabat plan regarding the dispute over the territory of Western Sahara put an end to an ambiguous diplomatic position that lasted nearly a year.

Several banners denounced the decision, including “Sánchez is a traitor,” “The Sahrawis decide, they are not a bargaining chip in your hand,” “The Sahara is not for sale.”

"This is the last betrayal committed by the Spanish government," said Pablo Marin, 63, who was standing among the Saharan flags and the flags of the radical left-wing Podemos, an ally of Sanchez in the ruling coalition.

After Madrid committed itself to neutrality, it announced eight days ago its support for the Moroccan autonomy plan for Western Sahara, a vast desert region rich in phosphates and with waters full of fish. Rabat has been contesting it with the Polisario Front, which is backed by Algeria, since the Spanish withdrew from it in 1975.

The Spanish announcement comes after a diplomatic crisis that began in April 2021 with Spain receiving the leader of the Polisario Front, Ibrahim Ghali, the archenemy of Rabat, for treatment from Covid-19.

The situation worsened a month later, with the arrival of about ten thousand immigrants of Moroccan origin within hours to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on the northern coast of Morocco, after Morocco eased border controls. The local authorities said that the demonstrators coming to Madrid on Saturday from all over Spain numbered about two thousand.

Fatima Hamida, a 20-year-old student from Zamora in the northwest of the country, came to oppose "Pedro Sanchez's decision and to demonstrate for our freedom and our right to self-determination of our land."

Salome Ibrahim, a 28-year-old merchant, expressed his anger, saying that the Sahrawis were "a bargaining chip in the face of the interests of the Kingdom of Morocco."

“No one knows why,” he said, adding that Spain suddenly changed its position, and “this is a problem,” after Madrid remained neutral with the withdrawal of the Spaniards from there, for nearly fifty years.

The conflict in Western Sahara, which the United Nations considers a "non-independent territory", has pitted Morocco against the decades-old Algeria-backed Polisario Front separatists.

Rabat, which controls about 80 percent of the region, is proposing an autonomy plan under its sovereignty, while the Polisario Front calls for a referendum for self-determination, stipulated in the cease-fire agreement signed in 1991.(AFP)
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