By Khalid Mejdoub
LAAYOUNE, Morocco (AA) – Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani on Monday said the Moroccan people rejected any Polisario presence in the buffer zone separating Morocco from Polisario-held territory in the disputed Western Sahara region.
Othmani described a recent series of meetings he had with local representatives in Laayoune, the largest city in Western Sahara, as “a message to the international community that Western Sahara remains an issue of deep concern for Moroccans of all backgrounds”.
The Moroccan authorities, Othmani added, were prepared to act “firmly” in response to any perceived “provocations” in the region by the Polisario Front.
Morocco recently accused the Polisario of bringing military supplies from camps in Algeria to areas east of the buffer zone, which lies along the region’s eastern border and where UN troops are currently deployed.
Occupied by Spain until 1975, Western Sahara — a large territory in southern Morocco — has remained the subject of dispute between Rabat and the Algeria-backed Polisario Front for more than four decades.
Following years of conflict, the two parties signed a UN-backed ceasefire in 1991, but both sides still lay claim to the region.
The Polisario has long demanded a popular referendum in Western Sahara to decide the region’s political fate.