The European Union's high court says EU agreements on closer ties and trade with Morocco should not apply to the disputed Western Sahara region, a decision which the Polisario Front independence movement claimed as a victory.
The EU's Court of Justice said Wednesday that any EU deal with Morocco should have specifically referred to the region and that the people there should have consented to being part of such an agreement if both sides wanted it included. The territory's status is among the most sensitive topics in the North African kingdom. Morocco considers the vast mineral-rich Western Sahara as its "southern provinces" and fiercely defends against anything it considers a threat to its territorial integrity.
Polisario saw the court decision as highlighting that the Western Sahara does not belong to Morocco, which annexed the former Spanish colony in 1975 and fought the Polisario Front. Emboldened by the ruling, Polisario's representative to Europe, Mohamed Sidati, called on the EU nations to "immediately cease all agreements, funding and projects reinforcing Morocco's illegal occupation of Western Sahara."