Spain-Morocco

Diplomatic showdown over hunger strike

Published on 4 December 2009 at 13:34
El País, 4 December 2009

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“Total impasse in the Haidar affair,” headlines the Spanish daily El País. Aminatou Haidar, an independence activist whom supporters call the “Sahrawi Gandhi”, has been on a hunger strike at Lanzarote airport in the Spanish Canary Islands since 16 November. Haidar, a champion of self-determination in the Western Sahara, a region administered by Morocco but whose sovereignty is still contested, was deported to Lanzarote and had her Moroccan passport revoked after she refused to declare her nationality as Moroccan on an airport arrival form. “Rabat’s refusal”, in turn, “to allow the Sahrawi to return is sparking a diplomatic showdown” between Spain and Morocco, explains the Madrid daily.

“Does it make any sense to offer Morocco a privileged status vis-à-vis the EU when its political system diverges from Europe’s on such basic points as freedom of the press and human rights?”asks analyst Bernabé López. Rabat will not issue Haidar a new passport unless she “apologises to the king”.

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