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WESTERN Saharan independence leader Brahim Ghali has vowed to continue his fight until the international community acts to fulfil its promise of self-determination for his people.
He was speaking at the Dajla refugee camp in Tindouf province, south-west Algeria, in a rare public appearance on Tuesday as hundreds gathered to mark the 46th anniversary of Sahrawi unity.
Mr Ghali hit out at the United Nations for failing to hold a referendum that was agreed as part of a ceasefire signed between Morocco and the Polisario Front in 1975.
“There will be neither peace, nor stability, nor a just and lasting solution to the Moroccan-Sahrawi conflict unless the UN Security Council assumes its responsibilities in responding frankly and firmly to the aggressive and expansionist practices of the Moroccan occupying power,” he told crowds.
The Polisario Front has accused world powers, including the UN, of colluding to allow Morocco to break a 30-year-old UN-brokered ceasefire agreement, after an incursion into the demilitarised Guerguerat region last November.
It says that at least eight of its fighters have been killed during clashes with Moroccan forces across a border wall which divides the territories it controls and those held by Morocco.
Mr Ghali warned that the conflict could spread and risks destabilising the entire North African region if action isn’t taken.
“The war is already raging on the ground. And its dangers and repercussions cannot be avoided if the UN continues to manage the crisis instead of solving it,” he said.
The Polisario Front has accused Morocco of the continued “looting of [Western Sahara’s] natural resources” through the export of agricultural goods, phosphates and fish, much of which was sold under EU-Morocco trade deals.
But a top European court recently ruled that Morocco has no legitimate right to sign any agreements relating to fish and agricultural goods in Sahrawi territory.
Mr Ghali accused companies that do business with Morocco in occupied Western Sahara of supporting “an illegal, aggressive and expansionist operation, and the theft and looting of the wealth of an oppressed and defenceless people.”
Morocco annexed Western Sahara in 1975, but international rulings have consistently found that the majority of the population of Western Sahara favour independence.
The International Court of Justice has also rejected Morocco’s claim of precolonial historical sovereignty.
Former US president Donald Trump inflamed tensions when he recognised Moroccan sovereignty of the disputed territory in return for Rabat’s normalisation of relations with Israel.
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