- In a speech celebrating the ninth anniversary of his accession to the Moroccan throne, King Mohammed VI saluted "the readiness" of his armed forces, especially on the borders, when addressing the strained relations with neighbouring Algeria.
The Moroccan King dedicated a great part of his speech to his country's relations with Algeria and the Western Sahara conflict, which is among the root causes for the poor relations between the two neighbours.
As particularly noted by Moroccan state media, Mohammed VI saluted the readiness of his armed forces, on the borders especially, saying that Morocco will "reject any attempt to force a fait-accompli or to touch to its sovereignty." This statement, as Moroccan media point out, "came right after he seemed to blame Algeria for keeping its borders closed."
The King however invited Algerian authorities to find a solution to the conflict and improve neighbourly ties. Mohammed VI called for establishing "a constructive partnership" with Algeria in order to respond to the "ambitions" of Moroccan and Algerian youth. "Morocco will continue to extend its hand for reconciliation and to establish trust in dialogue and total reconciliation with all parties concerned," the King said.
Mohammed VI strongly criticised Algeria for keeping its borders closed since 1994, shaming it for its "mass punishment" of both peoples. "We will continue to take sincere initiatives and to reply to goodwill gestures in order to normalise Moroccan-Algerian relations," he said. "The closing of the border separating between both countries is a collective punishment not in line with the historical links established between both countries and their future," added the Moroccan King.
However, his proposals for a solution to the Algerian-Moroccan conflict are seen as bringing nothing new, as he claimed the two countries were wasting their efforts "in the labyrinths of a conflict inherited from past times." Referring to the conflict over Western Sahara, which Morocco has occupied since 1976, the King urged Algeria to stop focusing on "these differences in opinions."
Algeria however remains the staunch supporter of Polisario Front, the independence movement that first fought Spanish colonial powers, then Moroccan occupiers in the Western Sahara territory. Western Sahara, which is a full-fledges member of the African Union, has established its exiled government on Algerian soil.
The Moroccan King made it clear that he has nothing to give when it comes to find a negotiated solution to the Western Sahara conflict. "The priority that tops all other priorities is to achieve the unity of the kingdom's soil," Mohammed VI's opening words on the issue were, again emphasising that he would accept no other solution that a Moroccan annexation of Western Sahara. He called the "illusion of separation" a mere "fantasy".
Algeria should join what King Mohammed VI called "the growing international support of the kingdom's right to rule its Sahara." Morocco has spent the last 17 years of a UN-brokered ceasefire with Polisario to modernise its armed forces, and the King emphasised that the army would "reject any attempt" to force it to abandon "its sovereignty" over Western Sahara.
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