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Moroccan politicians slam Saied meeting with Polisario head

Tunisia president's meeting with Polisario chief 'a stab in the back', Morocco politicians say
2 min read
27 August, 2022
'Tunisia is not the friend it once was,' former Moroccan prime minister Saadeddine al-Othmani said after Kais Saied met the head of Western Sahara's separatist military force.
Tunisian President Kais Saied cause ire on Friday by meeting with Polisario chief Brahim Ghali [Getty]

Moroccan politicians of all stripes have described Kais Saied’s decision to meet with the head of Western Sahara’s separatist military force as a "stab in the back" that threatens Morocco’s sovereignty. 

Tunisian President Kais Saied met on Friday with Brahim Ghali - the head of the Polisario Front and president of the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic - while in Tunisia to attend the Japanese-African investment conference TICAD8.

The Polisario is fighting for an independent state in the Western Sahara, a vast stretch of strategically valuable, mineral-rich desert Morocco sees as part of its own territory.

After the meeting, a furious Morocco recalled its ambassador in Tunis. Tunisia, in response to Morocco's decision, announced it was recalling its ambassador to Rabat for consultation.

Moroccan parties of all stripes have released statements condemning Kais Saied's move.  

The National Rally for Independents, the leading party in Morocco’s current coalition government, described the meeting as "an unprecedented hostile act, aimed against Morocco and its territorial sovereignty". 

"This is concrete proof that Kais Saied is in a reckless cycle of behaviour, taking recklessly hostile actions against friendly countries - actions which will not benefit the Tunisian people in any way," their statement read.

"In fact, these uncalculated, rash decisions support the enemies of Morocco, separatist interests in the region that only seek to further dangerous divisions, threatening the prosperity and democracy that our peoples deserve."

The Socialist Union of Popular Forces called the move a "stab in Morocco's back" and "a blatant breach and disrespect to the spirit of bilateral relations" between Tunisia and Morocco.

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Opposition party Socialist Progress condemned Saied for his "reckless behaviour", which it said represents "a watershed moment for Tunisia’s current path of populist deviance". 

The Islamic Party struck a more ebullient tone, arguing that "President Saied’s actions will have no impact whatsoever on Morocco’s security and national unity when it comes to the Western Sahara".

Former prime minister Saadeddine al-Othmani proclaimed that "Tunisia is not the friend it once was" for receiving Ghali.

"It’s especially painful when it is your brother stabbing you in the back," al-Othmani tweeted.