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Morocco and partners quit Africa-Arab summit over Polisario attendance

Morocco regards the Western Sahara as an integral part of the kingdom [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 23 November, 2016

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Morocco's feud with Western Saharan separatists continues to strain relations with its continental neighbours as Rabat makes another bid to rejoin the African Union.

Morocco and several other Arab countries walked out of an Africa-Arab nations summit in Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday in an act of protest against the presence of a delegation of Western Sahara seperatists, media reports said.

Morocco, which is a big investor in its home continent, left the fourth Africa-Arab World Summit along with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Yemen and Somalia. Morocco considers the Polisario Front, who have sought Western Saharan independence from Morocco since 1975.

Morocco's foreign ministry blasted the group's participation as, "the presence of the emblem of a puppet entity in the meeting rooms", Morocco's MAP news agency reported.

The kingdom maintains that Western Sahara is an integral part of its territory, while the Polisario Front is demanding a referendum on the territory's independence.

It was promised that a vote on the territory's future would take place as part of the UN-brokered ceasefire in 1991, however this has failed to materialise.

At present, Morocco is attempting to rejoin the African Union - an organisation it left in protest in 1984 because of the admission of the Polisario's Sahrawi Arab Republic as a member.

Media outlets close to Equatorial Guniea's government, including the Africa 24 network, criticised Morocco's latest move.

"Morocco has partnerships with Central Africa, West Africa and Southern Africa. We cannot allow such a blow," said one commentator.

Rabat's recent AU membership bid must be approved by a vote of the body's commission in order to be accepted.

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