The Polisario Front vowed Friday to press on with its fight for Western Sahara, a day after President Donald Trump announced the US would back Moroccan rule over the area.
“Fighting will continue until the total withdrawal of the Moroccan occupation troops,” said Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, foreign minister of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which the Polisario proclaimed in 1976.
Western Sahara is a disputed and divided former Spanish colony, mostly under Morocco’s control, where tensions with the pro-independence Polisario have simmered since the 1970s.
The Algerian-backed movement holds a fifth of Western Sahara and has campaigned for a vote on self-determination through decades of war and deadlock.
The US decision was “null and void”, Ould Salek said, emphasising that the international community “does not recognise and will not recognise any Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara”.
Sovereignty “belongs exclusively to the Sahrawi people,” he told AFP.
A decades-old ceasefire collapsed in mid-November after Morocco said it had sent troops into no man’s land there to reopen a road to neighbouring Mauritania.
The Polisario has since claimed that daily exchanges of fire have taken place along the sand barrier that separates the two sides.
Trump, whose mandate ends in January, said Thursday that he had agreed to recognise Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed territory, while also announcing that Morocco was normalising relations with Israel.
The United Nations said Thursday its position on Western Sahara was “unchanged” following the US move.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres believed “the solution to the question can still be found based on Security Council resolutions,” his spokesman said.
During an African Union meeting last week, the body put the Western Sahara question back on its peace and security council’s agenda.
The SADR is a member of the African Union, but controls just 20 percent of the territory, mostly empty desert.
The Polisario, which fought a war for independence from 1975 to 1991, demands a referendum on self-determination for Western Sahara.
UN-led talks between the two sides — also including Algeria and Mauritania — have been suspended for months.