- The President of the exiled Western Sahara government, Mohamed Abdelaziz, today started an official visit to the Spanish autonomous Canary Islands, where he is meeting local government leaders. President Adbelaziz, who earlier criticised Canarian business ties with Moroccan occupied Western Sahara, praised the "excellent relations" with the Spanish archipelago.
President Abdelaziz today started a two-day official visit to the Canary Islands, during which he will meet with the President of the Canaries' autonomous government, Adan Martín, and with representatives of the different islands, according to the Sahrawi government-controlled press agency 'SPS'.
The objective of this visit, which will lead the Sahrawi President to the Islands of Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura, was to inform Canary Islands political leader on the situation of the Morocco-Western Sahara conflict. The visit is one stage of the Sahrawi leader's visit to several Spanish autonomous communities and regions, including the Balearic Islands, the Basque Country and Madrid, the same source added.
Spain is the former colonial power of Western Sahara, but in a move criticised by the UN, handed over control of the territory to Morocco in 1975. For thirty years, the Polisario independence movement has demanded independence for Western Sahara. Polisario now is based in Algerian refugee camps, housing the majority of Sahrawis. The exile government established in the camps, headed by President Abdelaziz, is a full member of the African Union (AU) but not recognised by Spain.
The Polisario government has put a special emphasis on its relations with the autonomous Canary Islands, due to the archipelago's geographical proximity to the occupied territory and the historic trade and cultural links between the two territories. Relations have somewhat soured by growing Canarian collaboration with Moroccan occupying authorities in Western Sahara and large Canarian investments in cooperation with Morocco.
The Sahrawi President on his current trip however is focusing on the traditionally good relations with the Canary Islands. "This complete visit aims at deepening the excellent relations traditionally maintained between our peoples, Canarian and Saharawi, their representatives and governments, concretised in a wide collaboration, constant meetings and permanent dialogue during the last decades," a press release by Polisario said today.
Mr Abdelaziz is accompanied with a delegation composed of Salek Baba Hacenna, Minister for Cooperation, Mhamed Khadad, Saharawi Coordinator with the UN and Mr Brahim Ghali, Polisario's Representative to Spain, SPS added. The delegation thus gathers Polisario's leading officials.
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