Lakhdar Brahimi calls for Algeria-Morocco borders to be reopened

Lakhdar Brahimi calls for Algeria-Morocco borders to be reopened
Veteran diplomat's words cause a stir in his home country of Algeria, where antagonism towards Morocco and its government remains fresh.
2 min read
15 December, 2016
Lakhdar Brahimi cited economic benefits in calling for the opening of the borders [AFP]
Algerian United Nations diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi has called for Algeria and Morocco's mutual borders to be opened in order to harness economic benefits.

Speaking at the Algiers Chateauneuf Police School on Sunday, the former UN and Arab league special envoy to Syria said he hoped that the neighbouring countries would, "leave the Sahara issue aside in an effort to build a communal economy based on exchange".

"A majority of important bilateral cooperation projects have been hampered between Algeria and Morocco," he added.

The call by Brahimi, who is close to Algeria's long-time president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, stirred up a small storm in his home country, where antagonism towards Morocco remains.

Much of tension is due to the two countries' disagreement over the future of the disputed Western Sahara territory.

Algerian daily Le Temps d'Algerie hailed Brahimi's words as, "an official call directed at the Moroccan neighbours who, in recent years, multiplied their attacks against Algeria".

"We hoped, after the death of King Hassan II, under whom relations between the two countries were tense, that the succession to the throne of his heir King Mohamed VI would turn a new page. Starting, for example, with the revitalization of an Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), a stillborn project. Wishful thinking," it continued.

Since 1994, Algeria's border with Morocco has remained shut after Rabat introduced a new visa requirement for Algerian citizens.

This new announcement followed a terror attack in Marrakesh, which at the time was thought to have been planned by Algiers.

In August this year, tensions on the border were raised again when Morocco reportedly began the construction of a 100km fence along a frontier region with Algeria.

This was matched by Algiers digging a 700km long trench on its side, while the country has lately started to erect 3.5 meter tall fence along its north-east border.