In Morocco, opposition politicians have welcomed the decision by King Hassan the Second to form an All-Party National Defence Council to deal with the crisis in the Western Sahara.
In Morocco, opposition politicians have welcomed the decision by King Hassan the Second to form an All-Party National Defence Council to deal with the crisis in the Western Sahara. Abderrhim Bouabid -- who is leader of the leftwing opposition USFP Party -- says King Hassan's decisive action is warranted -- due to the severity of the situation in the Sahara. He said Morocco should no longer remain on the defensive, but should act to counter the aggression of its enemies.
SYNOPSIS: King Hassan's decision to establish the National Defence Council was announced in the Moroccan Assembly on Thursday (8 March) by his Parliamentary Representative, Mr. Ahmed Reda Guedira.
Moroccan troops in the Western Sahara are under increasing pressure from Polisario Front guerrillas, who are fighting for the independence of the desert territory. Morocco and Mauritania divided the Western Sahara between themselves after Spain's colonial rule there ended in 1976. Since then, both Morocco and Mauritania have been engaged in a costly battle against the Polisario guerrillas, who are backed by Algeria. Mauritania's economy has been weakened by the conflict and in January this year, the Moroccan town of Tantan was occupied by the Polisario Front. King Hassan himself said the situation had "reached the threshold of the intolerable".
The National Defence Council -- consisting of two members from each Moroccan political party -- will assist in making all decisions involving the country's national integrity and security. King Hassan says the Council will play a vital role in the future of Morocco. King Hassan Says he attempted to arrange talks on the Western Saharan conflict with President Houari Boumedienne of Algeria before his death. Later efforts to meet Algerian leaders -- who support the Polisario guerrillas -- have, he said, been fruitless.