Western Sahara settlement remote

Aug. 1, 2006 at 9:45 AM
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ALGIERS, Algeria, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- A settlement for the long-protracted conflict over the Western Sahara appears to be still remote in light of Morocco's refusal to grant it independence.

The representative of Polisario, or the Armed Front for the Liberation of the Western Sahara, in Algeria lashed out Tuesday at Moroccan King Mohammed VI for declaring in a speech to the nation on the seventh anniversary of his coronation that the world approves granting the former Spanish colony self-autonomy but not independence.

"The Moroccan king is still dreaming while we assure him that dreams and reality are different and that there is no room but to independence of the Western Sahara from this occupier," Polisario representative Mohammed Yaslam said in a telephone interview with United Press International.

Yaslam stressed that "no international organization, including the Organization of Islamic Conference, or the Arab League, or the Non-Aligned Movement or the United Nations, agreed on self-autonomy for the Western Sahara as the king pretends."

He accused the Moroccan government of manipulating what he called "West Saharan traitors" to execute its schemes of depriving the area of its independence.

Polisario's quest for independence is backed by Algeria, and many of the front's leaders are based on Algerian territory.

Morocco, which moved in and occupied the largest part of the Western Sahara after Spain pulled out in the mid 1970s, claims that the area is part of its national territory and has been fighting Polisario for more than three decades.

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