Last Updated: Thu Jan 13, 2011 16:43 pm (KSA) 13:43 pm (GMT)

Morocco WS body says separatists work for Algeria

Laayoune witnessed the biggest anti-government demonstrations in decades
Laayoune witnessed the biggest anti-government demonstrations in decades

Morocco’s fact finding committee in charge of investigating the riots in the Western Sahara city of Laayoune accused “terrorist separatists” supported by Algeria of threatening the national security of Morocco.

The Moroccan parliamentary committee in charge of investigating the November unrest reported that the protests in Laayoune were aimed at serving foreign agendas, namely Algeria, under the guise of freedom of expression and human rights.

The demonstration camp in Laayoune, the committee said, was illegal and so was allowing to expand over a one month period, said Ahmed al-Zaidi, the committee’s spokesman.

“This was a political and social mistake and it is important to identify those responsible for this,” he read.

Zaidi added that there were no fatalities other than the ones stated by the Moroccan authorities and slammed foreign media for blowing the matter out of proportion and mounting a smear campaign against Morocco.

“It was very unprofessional and unethical of several Spanish media outlets to claim that the riots of Laayoune left hundreds dead and wounded.”

The committee, Zaidi pointed out, admitted to the occurrence of some violations during police raids in the aftermath of the clashes.

“Limited violations took place while the police were tracking down those responsible for inciting violence in Laayoune.”

Recommendations

The committee called upon the government to reconsider its policy towards the city of Laayoune and start embarking on developmental projects that raise the standard of living in the city.

This, the committee explained, should start with opening an investigation into reported violations in the fields of housing allocation and fishing rights as well as subsidized goods.

After that, there should be a revision of the tax system in the Western Sahara governorates in order to promote investment in the area.

The report also stressed the importance of dealing with citizens in Laayoune as Moroccans and of stirring away from tribal allegiances that might sow the seeds of sedition among citizens.

The Laayoune fact finding committee, formed on November 27, submitted its 66-page report Wednesday in the Assembly of Representatives, Morocco’s lower house parliament.

The report was prepared after listening to 122 witnesses and recording 60 hours of testimonies. The committee listened also to the testimonies of the ministers of interiors and foreign affairs, and information as well as local officials in Laayoune and several relevant parties.


(Translated from the Arabic by Sonia Farid)

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