Morocco Opens Investigation Into Pro-Polisario Event in Laayoune


Rabat – Morocco’s General Prosecutor at the Court of Appeal of Laayoune ordered an investigation after pro-Polisario activists held an event undermining Morocco’s territorial integrity in the southern city.

Polisario’s “official” news agency reported on September 20 that “activists” had participated in an organized event to challenge Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.  the same day.

In response to the maneuver by Polisario supporters, the prosecutor emphasized on Tuesday that the judicial inquiry follows an attack against Morocco’s territorial integrity, including clear incentives to commit acts defying the penal code.

The inquiry will allow Morocco’s judicial system to take the adequate legal measures to sanction those attacking the country’s territorial integrity, to guarantee the preservation of the nation’s cornerstones, the general prosecutor added.

Polisario has repeatedly conducted maneuvers in defiance of the UN-led political process to find an agreed upon and mutually acceptable solution for the Western Sahara conflict.

Polisario’s condemned provocations in Guerguerat

Less than a week after the “anti-occupation” event in Laayoune, on September 26, the UN responded to a related Polisario maneuver in the area. The United Nations delivered a warning message to the Polisario Front against obstructing traffic in the buffer zone.

“Regular civil and commercial traffic shall not be obstructed and no action shall be taken that might constitute an alteration of the status quo in the buffer zone,” said Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Guerguerat is an area that sees significant civil and commercial traffic, linking Morocco with Sub-Saharan Africa.

The UN had received information about Polisario-sponsored maneuvers in Guerguerat, a town on the Morocco-Mauritania border. It is within the buffer zone, which MINURSO, the UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, strictly surveils.

Additionally, Mauritanian press spoke of “unprecedented” moves by Polisario within the buffer zone on August 31. 

Similar reports suggested that sympathizers of the Polisario Front were planning to organize a sit-in in the town of Guerguerat “in the coming days.”

On behalf of the UN, Haq urged the separatist group to leave the zone immediately.

On September 27, one day after the UN’s message, Royal Armed Forces Inspector General Abdelfettah Louarak visited the buffer zone. He traveled to the area following Polisario’s maneuvers in order to assess the situation and prepare a potential response “continued separatist provocations.”

Opposition to Polisario in the buffer zone

This is not the first time the UN has warned MINURSO against the risks Polisario’s presence in Guerguerat pose to regional stability.

In April 2018, former Special Representative for Western Sahara and head of MINURSO Colin Stewart said that the UN was highly “preoccupied” by the Front’s constant, defiant presence in the zone. Stewart called on Polisario leadership to “immediately retreat but also abstain from any destabilizing moves.”

Despite numerous attempts to destabilize the area, an overwhelming number of locals support Morocco and stand for its territorial integrity over the region, and do not consider Polisario their legitimate representative.

This manifested in a petition that locals from Western Sahara signed in 2019, in response to claims questioning the legitimacy of an EU-Morocco fisheries and agriculture agreement in the region.

Morocco, according to petitioners, is “the only legitimate representative of our interests and of our will.”