Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 8 July 2020

Moroccan diplomat leaves Algeria over 'enemy' country remarks

Relations between the North African countries have long been tense, particularly over the disputed Western Sahara

A Moroccan diplomat to Oran has left after calling Algeria an 'enemy' country. Moon over the Santa Cruz Fort, Oran, Algeria.
A Moroccan diplomat to Oran has left after calling Algeria an 'enemy' country. Moon over the Santa Cruz Fort, Oran, Algeria.

A Moroccan diplomat at the centre of a spat between Algiers and Rabat has left Algeria at the country’s request, a spokesman for the presidency said.

Relations between the North African countries have long been tense, particularly over the Western Sahara, a disputed former Spanish colony on Africa’s Atlantic coast that is mostly under Morocco’s control.

“The consul of Morocco has left the country at Algeria’s request,” spokesman Mohand Oussaid Belaid told a news conference, referring to the consul of Morocco in Algeria’s second city Oran.

Last month, Algeria summoned Morocco’s ambassador after a video on social media showed a man, presented as the consul, calling Algeria an “enemy” country.

The man was addressing Moroccans complaining about being stranded in Algeria due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

Mr Belaid said the consul’s “attitude was not surprising because he is an officer of the Moroccan intelligence services”.

“Morocco expresses its dismay at these allegations” and “rejects these ridiculous and baseless assertions,” Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita told the Moroccan news agency MAP.

“The decision to recall the consul was taken solely on Morocco’s initiative,” he said. The country, he said, had always been nonconfrontational in its relations with Algeria.

According to Algerian news website TSA, the consul returned home last Thursday on a Royal Air Maroc flight that was repatriating Moroccans stranded in Algeria.

Last month, Algeria’s Foreign Ministry warned that a diplomat calling it an “enemy country” would constitute a serious violation, and urged Rabat to take “appropriate measures” to protect bilateral relations.

But Mr Belaid said the matter was now over and a new chapter had been turned.

Updated: June 11, 2020 10:49 AM

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