Morocco is set to pull out of the United Nations buffer zone to pave way for the emergence of a new African country, Western Sahara
The decision to withdraw from the Guerguerat zone is said to have been taken in person by the Moroccan King Mohammed VI.
The move came after the King spoke on the phone with the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres who asked him to pull out his troops.
“The Kingdom of Morocco will proceed from today with a unilateral withdrawal from the (Guerguerat) zone,” the Moroccan foreign ministry said in a statement.
Western Sahara is a sparsely-populated area of mostly desert situated on the north-west coast of Africa.
It was annexed by Morocco in 1975 – a move resisted by the Polisario Front.
A 16-year insurgency ended with a UN-brokered truce in 1991 and the promise of a referendum on independence.
But this has yet to take place and Morocco still controls two-thirds of the territory, while thousands of refugees live over the border in Algeria.
African Union and United Nations recognize the right of Western Sahara to self-determination as an independent nation.
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