First foreign diplomatic post opens in Western Sahara

A rocket is pictured near an earth wall that separates areas controlled by Morocco and the Polisario Front in Western Sahara. (Reuters)
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Updated 18 December 2019

First foreign diplomatic post opens in Western Sahara

  • For Rabat, the tiny African island nation inaugurating an office in the city of Laayoune supports Moroccan claims to Western Sahara
  • The Polisario Front, an Algeria-backed independence movement, insists on a referendum on full independence

RABAT: Comoros opened a consulate Wednesday in Western Sahara, the first foreign diplomatic post to open in the Moroccan-controlled part of the former Spanish territory, an official said.
For Rabat, the tiny African island nation inaugurating an office in the city of Laayoune represented “a supreme expression” of Moroccan claims to Western Sahara, a Moroccan diplomatic source told AFP.
The kingdom maintains that Western Sahara, mostly under Morocco’s control, is an integral part of its territory. The Polisario Front campaigns for its independence.
The Gambia also plans to open a consulate in the Western Saharan port city of Dakhla, according to Moroccan state news agency MAP.
The opening “will take place as soon as possible,” Gambian Foreign Minister Mamadou Tangara said at a recent Organization of Islamic Cooperation meeting in Rabat, according to MAP.
The United Nations refers to the vast desert territory as a non-self-governing territory and the international community has long advocated a referendum to decide its status.
The Polisario Front, an Algeria-backed independence movement, insists on a referendum on full independence, while Morocco has instead offered autonomy.
After a long break, a UN-led dialogue between Morocco, the Polisario Front, Algeria and Mauritania resumed in Switzerland in December 2018, followed by a second round in March, but no breakthrough was made.
Determined to “protect its supreme interests,” Morocco is preparing laws establishing jurisdiction over territorial waters stretching “from Tangiers to Lagouira” on the border with Mauritania, according to MAP.
Polisario supporters claim that 92 percent of Moroccan fishing is done in “pillaged” Western Saharan waters.


In Bolivia desperate family leaves coffin in the street

Updated 04 July 2020

In Bolivia desperate family leaves coffin in the street

  • The Andean nation has reported 36,818 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,320 deaths

LA PAZ, Bolivia: The rising toll of COVID-19 deaths is overwhelming the Bolivian city of Cochabamba, where desperate relatives of one apparent victim of the new coronavirus left his coffin in the street for several hours on Saturday to protest difficulties in getting him buried.
Neighbor Remberto Arnez said the 62-year-old man had died on Sunday and his body had been in his home ever since, “but that’s risky because of the possible contagion.”
After a few hours, funeral workers showed up and took the coffin to a cemetery.
Police Col. Iván Rojas told a news conference that the city is collecting “about 17 bodies a day. This is collapsing the police personnel and funeral workers” in the city of some 630,000 people.
“The crematorium oven is small, that that is where the bodies are collecting,” said national Labor Minister Óscar Mercado, who told reporters that officials were preparing 250 new burial plots in the city’s main cemetery.
The Andean nation has reported 36,818 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,320 deaths.