Spain does not rule out returning hunger-striking Sahara activist
Spain has not ruled out sending a hunger-striking Western Sahara independence activist back to Moroccan territory, Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa de la Vega said Friday.Madrid - Spain has not ruled out sending a hunger-striking Western Sahara independence activist back to Moroccan territory, Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa de la Vega said Friday.
Aminatou Haidar has consumed only sugared water since November 16, three days after Moroccan authorities denied her entry at Laayoune airport in Western Sahara, took her passport and sent her back to Spain's Canary Islands.
The 42-year-old mother of two was returning to her home town of Laayoune after having received a human rights award in the United States.
"The main objective is that Haidar returns home ... we have not ruled this option out and we will not rule it out," de la Vega told reporters.
They would keep working to ensure that Haidar stayed alive and try to talk her out of her hunger strike, she added.
Haidar has already turned down a Spanish offer of citizenship or political asylum.
"My demand is to return to Western Sahara dead or alive, with or without my passport," she told a brief news conference on Thursday at the airport on island of Lanzarote where she has been camped out since arriving in Spain.
Morocco says it will not allow Haidar to return, saying she had rejected her Moroccan nationality and passport, an account she has denied.
Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos may raise the issue when he meets with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday in Washington.
In Madrid meanwhile, about a thousand people joined a silent march to the Spanish foreign ministry in support of Haidar, carrying candles and banners with Haidar's face.
Morocco annexed the Western Sahara following the withdrawal of colonial power Spain in the dying days of the regime of right-wing dictator Francisco Franco, sparking a war with the Algeria-backed Polisario Front movement.
The two sides agreed a ceasefire in 1991, but UN-sponsored talks on its future have since made no headway.
Morocco has pledged to grant the phosphate-rich territory widespread autonomy, but rules out independence.