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Morocco calls on Spain to avoid escalating migration crisis over Brahim Ghali

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FADEL SENNA/AFP or licensors


Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita called Sunday on Spain to avoid a "rotting" of the crisis generated by the reception of Brahim Ghali, leader of the Polisario Front, and to restore the strategic partnership between the two countries, especially in terms of migration cooperation.

Rabat claims that the leader of the Sahrawi independence movement supported by Algiers travelled in a "fraudulent" way, "with a falsified passport", and asks for a "transparent" investigation into the conditions of his arrival, which Madrid justified by "humanitarian reasons".

The matter escalated into a crisis when Moroccan forces relaxed their border controls earlier this week, allowing 10,000 Moroccans dreaming of emigrating to Europe to cross into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta.

Allowing Mr Ghali "to return home, bypassing Spanish justice and ignoring the victims would be a call to rot", stressed Mr Bourita in an interview with AFP.

According to him, avoiding this "rot" requires a "transparent" investigation on the conditions of his entry into Spain and "on the consideration of complaints against him" for "torture", "human rights violations" or "enforced disappearance".

"This is a test for the strategic partnership" between the two countries, particularly in terms of the fight against illegal migration, he stressed.

"Good neighbourliness is not a one-way street," he said, stressing that Morocco "is not obliged to protect the borders" but does so in the framework of this partnership.

Since 2017, the kingdom "has dismantled more than 4,000 networks and blocked 14,000 irregular attempts" while Europe's financial counterpart, "an average of 300 million euros per year" does not represent 20%" of what it commits.

Spanish justice reopened this week a case against Mr. Ghali for "crimes against humanity" after an old complaint filed by a Sahrawi association accusing him of "human rights violations" on dissidents in the Tindouf camps (western Algeria).

The 75-year-old official, who was hospitalised in April in Logroño (north) after contracting Covid-19, had already been summoned on 1 June for a complaint of "torture" filed by a naturalized Spanish Polisario dissident.

The Polisario is campaigning for the independence of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony controlled for the most part by Morocco, which proposes autonomy under its sovereignty.

After almost 30 years of ceasefire, hostilities resumed in mid-November after Moroccan troops were deployed in a buffer zone in the far south of the territory to dislodge pro-independence fighters blocking the only route to West Africa.

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