Morocco diplomat leaves Algeria over 'enemy' remarks

AFP , Tuesday 9 Jun 2020

A Moroccan diplomat at the centre of a diplomatic spat between Algiers and Rabat has left Algeria at the country's request, a spokesman for the presidency said on Tuesday.

"The consul of Morocco has left the country at Algeria's request," spokesman Mohand Oussaid Belaid told a news conference, referring to the consul of Morocco in Algeria's second city Oran.

Last month Algeria summoned Morocco's ambassador after a video on social media showed a man, presented as the consul, calling Algeria an "enemy" country.

The man was addressing Moroccans complaining about being stranded in Algeria due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

Belaid said the consul's "attitude was not surprising because he is an officer of the Moroccan intelligence services".

According to the Algerian news website TSA, the consul returned home last Thursday on a Royal Air Maroc flight that was repatriating Moroccans stranded in Algeria.

Last month Algeria's foreign ministry warned that a diplomat calling it an "enemy country" would constitute a serious violation, and urged Rabat to take "appropriate measures" to protect bilateral relations.

But Belaid said the matter was now over and a new chapter had been turned.

Relations between the North African countries have long been tense, particularly over the Western Sahara, a disputed former Spanish colony on Africa's Atlantic coast that is mostly under Morocco's control.

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