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German Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Joachim Schuster has decided to step down as chairman of the Western Sahara Intergroup after the Polisario Front breached the 1991 ceasefire agreement with Morocco.
“After having given this decision a lot of thought, I have decided that, under these new conditions, I am not in a position to continue to chair the Western Sahara Intergroup,” Schuster wrote in a letter addressed to the group on December 15.
The Western Sahara Intergroup is a European parliamentary group that supports separatism in Morocco’s southern provinces.
The group used to regularly challenge Morocco’s territorial integrity. However, it seems that, after Polisario’s recent violations of the ceasefire, the group’s leadership can no longer justify their support.
“I consider the decision of the Frente Polisario to terminate the ceasefire to be a serious strategic error. I do not see how this can promote a solution to the conflict, but rather fear that the conflict will be significantly exacerbated. I do not think this serves the Sahrawi people,” Schuster wrote.
The German politician’s resignation from the Western Sahara Intergroup comes nearly two months after the separatist Polisario Front escalated its hostile acts against Morocco. On October 21, Polisario’s armed militia blocked traffic through the Guerguerat crossing point on the Moroccan-Mauritanian border.
The blockade lasted for more than three weeks, leaving hundreds of truck drivers stranded between Morocco and Mauritania. It ended after Morocco launched an non-offensive security operation on November 13 to restore the flow of civil and commercial traffic through the border crossing.
Soon after the operation, the Polisario Front launched an attack against the Moroccan army and declared “war” against Morocco.
According to Schuster, who used to be an avid defender of the separatists’ claims to an “independent state” in southern Morocco, the Polisario Front and its violation of the ceasefire has dashed hopes for a peaceful resolution to the territorial dispute.
The now-former Western Sahara Intergroup chairman is one of many politicians, institutions, and countries that withdrew their support for the militant group’s separatist “cause.”
While historically more than 80 countries officially recognized the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), only a few dozen continue to support it today.