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Morocco vows to clear Polisario blockade of Western Sahara road

Reuters , Friday 13 Nov 2020
Western Sahara
In this Jan.5, 2011 file photo, weapons discovered by Morocco's police in Western Sahara are placed in Laayoune AP
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Morocco will clear the main highway linking Western Sahara to Mauritania that has been blocked since Oct. 21 by supporters of the Polisario independence movement, it said on Friday.

Moroccan authorities did not specify how they would clear the road, which is the main land connection between Morocco and West Africa.

Polisario had previously threatened to respond if any Morocco military or civilian personnel enters the Guerguerat area, warning it could "put an end to the ceasefire and trigger a new war".

Pro-Polisario protesters have for weeks blocked the road where it passes through a U.N.-monitored buffer zone near the Mauritanian border after a U.N. Security Council resolution that included language seen as favourable to Morocco.

In a statement the Foreign Ministry said Morocco "had no other choice but to assume its responsibilities in order to put an end to the blockade ... and restore the free flow of civilian and commercial traffic".

Morocco took over the desert territory in 1974 when Spanish rule there ended and considers the phosphate-rich region part of its own country.

The Algeria-backed Polisario movement seeks independence for Western Sahara.

Last month the U.N. Security Council passed resolution 2548 which called for a "realistic, practicable and enduring solution... based on compromise".

That language was widely seen as calling into doubt any referendum on the territory's future - a goal long sought by the Polisario and backed by the United Nations in 1991.

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