Nearly a million Moroccans demonstrated in the streets of the capital on Sunday to denounce the words of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon over Western Sahara.
According to Morocco, this mineral-rich region is part of its “southern provinces”. Many citizens of this country were insulted when Mr. Ban has used the word “occupation” after visiting a Sahrawi refugee camp in southern Algeria last month.
The call to the national event was launched by the main political parties, trade unions and non-governmental groups. The authorities claim that the demonstration in Rabat drew more than three million people.
“The Sahara is ours,” chanted the protesters, who waved flags with the colors of Morocco.
The UN has been trying for more years to hold a referendum on the independence of the territory that was annexed by Morocco following the withdrawal of Spain in 1975. Rabat proposes to grant him greater autonomy.
Ban had also reiterated his calls for peace efforts in the region.
The spokesman of the United Nations, Stephane Dujarric, said the organization had been informed of the events. “Although the Secretary-General recognizes that there are differences of opinion on the Western Sahara issue, he continues to believe that, 40 years later, it is important to resolve this dispute and pave the way Sahrawi refugees return home, “he added.
The secretary-general calls for “real negotiations in good faith and without preconditions.”