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Monday, November 29, 2010

Morocco rejects probe into Western Sahara incident

Morocco rejects probe into Western Sahara incident

Sat Nov 27, 11:35 AM
MADRID (AFP) - Morocco rejects a probe into violent clashes between its security forces and residents of Western Sahara by the United Nations, its foreign minister said in an interview published on Saturday.

Rabat also refuses any role by the UN mission in the territory in the question of human rights, Taib Fassi Fihri told Spain's El Pais daily.

The European Parliament called Thursday for an independent UN probe into the clashes that followed a Moroccan raid on a protest squatter camp near the Western Sahara capital of Laayoun on November 8.

The Strasbourg parliament said it "strongly condemns" the incident and voiced the "greatest concern about the significant deterioration of the situation in Western Sahara."

Fihri said he would go to the parliament on December 1 to "show the one-sided, unfair and unbalanced nature" of its resolution.

Referring to demands for the UN to oversee human rights in the former Spanish territory annexed by Morocco in 1975, Fihri said, "We are not going to waver on this question."

He said the demands "serve our enemies," in reference to the separatist Polkisario Front and its chief backer Algeria, adding, "We are at war."

The minister also rejected reports of torture and disappearances carried by Spanish media and ruled out a referendum on the future of the territory.

In a report released Friday the New York-based Human Rights Watch said security forces repeatedly beat and abused people they detained.

"The Moroccan authorities should immediately end the abuse of detainees, and carry out an independent investigation into the abuse," it said.

Morocco says 11 security officers and at least two civilians were killed in the violence, while the Polisario Front, which wants independence for Western Sahara, said the toll was much higher.

The UN Security Council also deplored the raid, which coincided with a new round of UN-brokered peace talks between Rabat and the Polisario that ended with both sides agreeing only to meet again in December.

Morocco annexed Western Sahara after Spain pulled out of its former colony in 1975, but the Polisario Front fought the Moroccan presence until the United Nations brokered a ceasefire in 1991.

The Polisario wants a UN-organised referendum on self-determination, with independence as one of the options.

Morocco has so far rejected any proposal that goes beyond greater autonomy.
Moroccan forces dismantle a camp housing thousands of refugees in 
the Western Sahara, near Laayoune, on November 8, leaving four dead and 
scores injured, according to the rival sides. The North African nation 
has rejected a probe into the violent clashes by the UN, its foreign 
minister said in an interview.  Photo:/AFP
AFP Photo: Moroccan forces dismantle a camp housing thousands of refugees in the Western Sahara, near Laayoune,...

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