Bir-Lehlu (Liberated Territories) — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has affirmed that Morocco has undertaken during the last days, an unprecedented frenetic media and diplomatic disinformation campaign in a maneuver that aims to distort the reality of the facts on the ground and create confusion within public opinion.
In this regard, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued the following Memorandum on Moroccan allegations regarding the buffer zone:
"Morocco has undertaken during the last days, an unprecedented frenetic media and diplomatic disinformation campaign, which even went so far as to threaten to annex by force the liberated territories of Western Sahara, hiding behind a supposed violation by the Saharawi army of Alto el Fuego, signed between F. POLISARIO and Morocco in 1991.
This scandalous maneuver aims to distort the reality of the facts on the ground, seeking to create confusion within public opinion, around the geographic data of the area, resulting from the Arrangement Plan signed between the parties.
In this regard it is convenient to clarify:
1. The Military Agreement No. 1 that regulates the compliance with the ceasefire between the two armies establishes that the defensive wall is the dividing line between the troops, until the referendum of self-determination is held and the final status of the territory is determined, and set up to the east of the wall, a buffer zone represented by a belt adjacent to the wall with 5 km wide that extends along 2700 km.
2. Military Agreement No. 1 establishes, in addition, the delimitation of a restricted zone consisting of 30 km to the west of the wall where the Moroccan troops are retracted, and another 25 km on the south and east side of it, where the Saharawi troops are located. In this zone, any type of military activity or construction of infrastructure by any of the armies is prohibited.
3. The Moroccan assertions that Bir Lehlu and Tifariti are within the perimeter of the buffer zone are unfounded, since these two localities are located at a distance of no less than 90 km from the wall, and therefore, they are located outside the buffer zone.
4. The Moroccan allegations that the F. POLISARIO has violated the ceasefire were refuted by the UN, in statements made by the official spokesperson of the Secretary General, on April 3, 2018. In addition, Morocco has shown its rejection of the deployment of a UN expert mission to address issues related to the ceasefire and related agreements, as requested by the Security Council in its resolution 2351 (2017), paragraph 3, of April 28, 2017. Frente POLISARIO, on the other hand, did give its approval, as the Secretary General of the United Nations acknowledged in his last report submitted to the Security Council on March 29, 2018, which clearly testifies to its firm commitment to the ceasefire and The UN peace process.
5. Since the entry into force of the ceasefire, it is the Sahrawi government and the F.POLISARIO who exercise control over these liberated zones, and the Sahrawi troops and their units and military bases have always been present throughout the national territory since the very beginning of the liberation struggle against Spain in 1973. It is the Saharawi government, too, who directs the affairs of the civilian population of the area, creating for it several administrative, political and social infrastructures.
6. The Moroccan insinuations that the celebration of the ceremonies of presentation of the credentials of some ambassadors accredited to the SADR in the locality of Bir Lehlu, are facts that occur for the first time, are a fallacy, since the F. POLISARIO and the Sahrawi state have organized in the area and over many years, multiple events, such as congresses and festivities of national anniversaries, as well as receiving and holding meetings with numerous foreign delegations, both governmental and parliamentary and others.
7. The disinformation campaign comes as a consequence of the setbacks that Morocco has recently suffered at the level of the Court of Justice of the European Union that ruled against the illegal plundering of the natural resources of Western Sahara. The firm position of the African Union at its last summit, where it expressed the urgent need for direct negotiations between the two member countries of the African Union. The Sahrawi Republic and Morocco, have also been a heavy blow to Morocco's attempts to neutralize Africa's great contribution to peace efforts in its last colony.
8. This campaign of misrepresentation of facts and confusion of public opinion occurs at a time when the Security Council is discussing the situation relative to Western Sahara, and given the purpose, strongly expressed by the Secretary General of the United Nations and its Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Horst Köhler, to relaunch the negotiation process between the two parties, as demanded by Security Council resolutions. For this reason, Morocco has been looking for pretexts to avoid its responsibilities with the International Community.
It is clear, then, that this Moroccan propaganda campaign around the UN-monitored ceasefire is nothing more than a premeditated tactic to divert the attention of the Security Council from the real reasons behind the current blockade situation caused by Morocco. It also seeks to confuse public opinion and divert attention away from the internal situation of the country that suffers an unprecedented political, social and economic crisis.