Western Sahara: Madrid’s caution avoids further tensions

Prudence and caution are always worth it. We can, in this perspective, interpret the cautious reaction of the Spanish Government to a group of Spanish activists who has organized an illegal demonstration in favour of the separatists of the Polisario Front in the Western Sahara. The 11 Spanish activists had reached the city of Laayoune, on Saturday 28th August, with tourist visas, before organizing a demonstration without prior permission from the Moroccan authorities. Cut to the quick, some Moroccan citizens have seen in this event a provocation, which has triggered a violent altercation between the two groups. The confrontation, however, ended with the intervention of the Moroccan police. At the request of Madrid, the Moroccan Government has provided explanations on what the Spanish activists considered as mistreatments. The arguments of Rabat were clearly compelling.

The Spanish State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Juan Pablo Laiglesia, has said that “Moroccan authorities have provided explanations, which we think enough for us to declare the case closed”. Challenging the allegations of the Spanish activists on the so-called violent acts committed by police officers in plain clothes, the Spanish diplomat has honestly admitted: “We have no evidence to give credence to the opinion of the militants.” The activists “have participated in an illegal, unauthorized demonstration, during which some quarrels have occurred”. With dignity, the number 2 of the Spanish diplomacy said: “Everything seems to indicate that the altercations occurred at the demonstration where a reaction of an opposing group to the Spanish activists has apparently taken place ». Refusing to present Madrid with a fait accompli, the Secretary in charge of International Policy and Cooperation at the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), Elena Valenciano, has more directly expressed her condemnation of the Spanish activists, having entered to Morocco with tourist visas: “We must protect the fundamental rights of the Spanish citizens, but we must also respect the law when we are not in our country, just like foreigners when they come to Spain”.

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