Eastern Caribbean countries open consulate in Western Sahara

FILE PHOTO: Dominica's Prime Minister Skerrit addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at the UN Headquarters in New York
FILE PHOTO: Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, U.S. September 23, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

March 31, 2022

RABAT (Reuters) – The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) opened a consulate in Western Sahara on Thursday, joining African and Arab countries who have set up diplomatic missions there to support Morocco’s claim to the disputed territory.

Dominican Republic Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said he opened the consulate in Dakhla on behalf of eastern Caribbean member states, according to a joint statement by the Dominican Republic and Morocco.

The Algerian-backed Polisario Front is attempting to establish an independent state in the vast and sparsely populated desert region that Morocco considers its own country.

Gaining international recognition for its rule over Western Sahara has long been Morocco’s top diplomatic goal.

Rabat has said the best it can offer as a political solution to the dispute is autonomy under its sovereignty. The Polisario and their ally Algeria reject this and want an independence referendum.

Algeria and the Polisario have also denounced the opening of consulates on the territory.

Skerrit said his country supports Morocco’s sovereignty over the territory and its autonomy plan.

Major powers such as France, Germany and the United States, and this month Spain and Israel, have also backed Rabat’s proposal to end the conflict.

For years, most countries had backed the idea of ​​a referendum to resolve the issue – agreed as part of the 1991 ceasefire.

However, there was never an agreement on how the vote would take place, and in recent years even the UN has stopped citing the idea of ​​a vote, instead seeking a realistic, mutually acceptable solution based on a compromise.

(Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Barbara Lewis) Eastern Caribbean countries open consulate in Western Sahara

Bobby Allyn

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