Moroccan presenter to sue over 'Western Sahara slip' suspension

Moroccan presenter to sue over 'Western Sahara slip' suspension
Moroccan TV presenter Soumia Derhouri will file a lawsuit against former employer channel Medi1 following her suspension over an on-air slip about the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
3 min read
26 Apr, 2017
Rabat considers Western Sahara an integral part of Morocco [AFP]

A Moroccan TV presenter said she will take legal action against her broadcaster employer after being suspended due to on-air slip about the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

Soumia Derhouri, who hosts Afrique Soir at the private Medi1 TV channel, told al-Jarida24 website that she would resort to the judiciary to reach a final decision on the case.

Derhouri was suspended last week after mistakenly referring to a disputed territory as "Western Sahara", rather than Rabat's preferred politically-charged term "Moroccan Sahara".

The term "contradicts the channel's editorial line", Medi1 said in a statement on the same day.

Derhouri submitted her resignation in protest immediately after her suspension, blaming the on-air slip on the excessive work load during the preceding shifts.

On Tuesday, Medi1 chief Omar Dahbi said no sanctions would be imposed on Derhouri, but she would remain suspended pending investigation.

He pointed out that the mistake did not only involve describing the disputed territory as "Western Sahara", but also attributing a sentence about "the independent cause of Western Sahara" to the Moroccan foreign ministry.

Sovereignty over Western Sahara has been disputed between the government of Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front, a Sahrawi national liberation movement working to end Moroccan presence and to establish an independent nation.

Fighting broke out between Morocco and the Polisario Front after Spain's colonial administration of Western Sahara ended in 1976.

The UN mission, known as MINURSO, is tasked with monitoring a ceasefire reached in September 1991 and organising a referendum on self-determination in Western Sahara.

Rabat considers Western Sahara an integral part of Morocco and proposes autonomy for the resource-rich territory, but the Polisario Front insists on a UN referendum on independence.

UN vote

The UN Security Council will vote on Thursday on a draft resolution backing a the bloc's bid to re-start talks on settling the decades-old conflict, diplomats said.

The draft resolution would also put pressure on the Polisario Front to immediately withdraw fighters from a tense buffer zone after Morocco pulled back its forces in February, according to the text seen by AFP.

The US circulated the proposed resolution to the Security Council on Monday after consulting with France, Russia and the UK on the measure that would also extend the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara for a year.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the council in a report this month that he planned to re-start negotiations "with a new spirit" to try to end one of the world's most intractable conflicts.

"It is indeed time to look ahead and to re-launch negotiations, that is what we want," French Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters as the council met Tuesday to discuss the draft text.

Agencies contributed to this report.