Spain-Morocco

Haidar returns to Western Sahara

Published on 18 December 2009 at 14:16
El País, 18 December 2009

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After a 32-day hunger strike at Lanzarote airport in the Canaries, Saharawi activist Aminatou Haidar has been allowed to return to Western Sahara—a territory ruled by Morocco (who refers to it as "Southern Provinces"), which Spain believes ought to be granted the right to self-determination in a referendum. Haidar, aged 42, was refused entry by Moroccan authorities on 14 November, and only allowed back into the country following diplomatic intervention from France. It was "the only possible solution to a crisis prompted by an unjust decision of the Moroccan government, which was compounded by mysterious behaviour on the part of Spanish authorities," notes El País.

The Madrid daily further asserts that negotiations to allow the independence campaigner to return home "avoided a human tragedy," but also highlighted "the fragility of relations between Morocco and Spain." El País is convinced that Morocco deliberately sought to persecute Haider, who had left the country to collect a human rights award at a ceremony in the United States—a course of action, which shows "that the Saharwi people are indeed subject to oppression."

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