Senegal to open consulate in Morocco-controlled Western Sahara

April 3, 2021 9:05 AM EDT

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RABAT (Reuters) - Senegal will open a consulate in Western Sahara on Monday, joining other African and Arab countries in supporting Morocco's claim to the disputed territory, two official sources said.

The consulate will be opened by the Moroccan and Senegalese foreign ministers in the Atlantic city of Dakhla, making Senegal the 22nd nation to establish a diplomatic mission in the territory, the sources said.

The Algeria-backed Polisario Front seeks independence for Western Sahara, a vast desert region held by Morocco since Spain withdrew in 1975.

Morocco has long sought international recognition of its claim to the region it calls its "southern provinces". The Polisario movement and Algeria have denounced the opening of consulates in the territory.

The Polisario Front said on Nov. 13 it had quit a U.N.-brokered ceasefire and declared war, following a Moroccan military move to clear a road that has been blocked for three weeks by pro-Polisario supporters and fighters.

Rabat has said the most it can offer as a political solution to the dispute is autonomy. The Polisario Front and Algeria have called for a referendum with independence as one of the options.

In December, the Trump administration recognised Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara and promised to open a consulate in Dakhla. The new administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has not commented on its position on sovereignty.

(Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Ros Russell)



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