Morocco gives Spain 'commitment' over W.Sahara raid

17th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Morocco has vowed to comply with any requests from Madrid to investigate last week's deadly raid on a squatter camp in Western Sahara, Spain's interior minister said.

Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba was addressing a news conference on Tuesday following a meeting with his Moroccan counterpart, Taieb Cherkaoui, amid growing international concern over the violence.

"I asked for and obtained a commitment from the Moroccan government to investigate whatever information, whatever name, whatever concern the Spanish government had in relation to what happened in Laayoune," he said.

The raid on a camp housing thousands of Sahrawis near Laayoune was carried out on November 8, a few hours before a new round of talks between the Polisario Front -- the main Western Sahara rebel group -- and the Moroccan government got underway near New York.

Morocco says 12 people died in clashes between protesters and the police, including 10 members of the security forces.

One Spanish citizen was killed, in what Rabat called a road accident.

But the pro-independence Polisario said dozens of people died and more than 4,500 were wounded in the violence.

Rubalcaba said he told Cherkaoui of the Spanish government's "serious concerns" over the accusations.

The Moroccan minister "made a detailed account of the events in which he rejected these accusations," the Spanish minister said.

The UN Security Council meanwhile deplored the raid, calling on the Polisario and Morocco "to demonstrate further political will towards a solution."

Amid complaints about Morocco delaying access to the camp, Ruhukana Rugunda, Uganda's ambassador to the United Nations, decried "a grave situation" in Western Sahara, which Morocco seized after Spain withdrew in 1975.

Rugunda, whose country is among three African nations on the Security Council, backed Polisario calls for a UN or independent fact-finding mission into the raid.

"There was an incident or incidents, we are told many people died and many were wounded and others are missing, but we have no authentic and reliable source of information," he said.

But MINURSO, the UN mission in Western Sahara, does not have a brief to investigate human rights abuses.

The Spanish League for Human Rights meanwhile filed a court case against the Moroccan government.

It accuses Rabat of crimes against humanity over the raid and the death of a Spanish national of Western Saharan descent, Baby Hamadi Buyema.

Cherkaoui again defended actions taken by the security forces.

"There was no genocide, no crimes against humanity, nor any act of horror, just a peaceful intervention," he said.

© 2010 AFP

0 Comments To This Article