Madrid says Western Sahara’s independent leaders must answer Spanish proceedings

Madrid-Independent leaders of Western Sahara, at the heart of the diplomatic dispute between Rabat and Madrid, must respond to legal accusations in Spain before leaving the country, Spain said on Sunday.

Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Raya said last month that Polisario Front leader Brahim Ghali had arrived in Spain from Algeria for treatment.

Spain’s decision to host Gari without telling Morocco angered Rabat, who considered Western Sahara as part of Morocco and said that Gari was using the wrong name as a travel document provided by Algeria. ..

Gonzales Raya said that when Gari recovered from health problems, he should answer the case in the Spanish High Court before returning to his country.

“We promised to give this person a humane response. This person was in a critical situation due to his multiple health problems, including a serious case of COVID-19.” She told Spanish National Radio.

“When he recovers, he will return to his country. In the meantime, he is facing a series of judicial proceedings and hopes he will fulfill his obligations to the Spanish judicial system.”

The Spanish High Court has denied plaintiffs’ request to arrest him, but Gari is facing a subpoena in Spain for a war crime against him.

Morocco urged Spain on Saturday to begin investigating the arrival of Gari in Spain and explain the results to Rabat.

The Algerian-backed Polisario Front called for independence in the region, saying last year it would resume the armed struggle held by the UN-mediated ceasefire in 1991, with little evidence of combat.

In December, the United States acknowledged Morocco’s allegations against Western Sahara in a deal that included Rabat’s strengthening of relations with Israel.

On Monday, Morocco appeared to ease border control of Ceuta with Spain’s North African outlyings. And it has led to thousands of people going illegally.

Analysts said it seemed to be related to a diplomatic dispute with Madrid, but Rabat later blamed the intersection for weather and border guard fatigue.

Morocco recalled this week in talks with the Spanish ambassador, saying that if Gari left Spain without trial on Friday, relations between the two countries would worsen.

Graham Keeley

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