RABAT - Ties between Morocco and Algeria have worsened following the latest political wrangle between the two neighbouring countries Monday during the virtual Summit of the Contact Group of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Abroad Nasser Bourita and Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune traded barbs over the Western Sahara issue.
Bourita said that “a neighbouring country continues to fuel separatism and divert the resources from its population for acts of regional destabilization,” in reference to Algeria.
In a speech delivered by videoconference on behalf of Morocco to the Summit, Bourita said he regretted that despite the exceptional current circumstances, a neighbouring country “continues to fuel separatism, in violation of the founding principles of NAM.”
“This country, instead of using its resources to improve the precarious situation of its population in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, diverts them to fuel regional destabilization", he added, with reference to Algeria's bringing up the Western Sahara issue during the meeting.
Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune called in the meeting for an immediate cessation of hostilities worldwide without losing sight of the situation “in occupied lands, as is the case in Palestine and the Western Sahara.”
Tebboune’s statement is the latest sign of Algeria’s involvement in the Western Sahara issue despite its repeated denial.
The Algerian-backed Polisario fought a war with Morocco from 1975 to 1991, when a ceasefire deal was agreed and MINURSO was deployed to monitor the truce in the former Spanish colony.
The mission was to prepare a referendum on Western Sahara's independence from Morocco, but it never materialised.
Morocco, which annexed the territory after Spain withdrew in 1975, considers Western Sahara an integral part of the kingdom and has offered autonomy, but not an independence referendum.
Composed of 120 countries, the Non-Aligned Movement is the second Grouping of States after the United Nations.