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Western Sahara

Yearbook 2016

Western Sahara. The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced in January that Sweden does not recognize Western Sahara. According to the Ministry, the reason was that the "conditions of international law" were not fulfilled. In addition, according to Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, the issue was a decolonization issue in the UN and was on the UN Security Council's agenda.

According to countryaah, the current population of Western Sahara is 597,350. The message was received with great disappointment from the Western Saharan liberation movement Polisario. They had expected the opposite as both the Social Democrats and the Environmental Party have party decisions to recognize Western Sahara. According to analysts, the Swedish government's turnaround was because they could not afford to deteriorate relations with Morocco. Since the issue was put under review last year, Morocco has put pressure on Swedish politicians, among other things through threats of boycott by Swedish companies.

For the 43rd time since 1991, the United Nations Security Council in April extended the one-year UN peacekeeping mandate of MINURSO in Western Sahara. At the same time, the Council wanted the 500-strong force to become operational again, after Morocco, following a dispute with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, expelled some 80 civilian members from the force. Whether Morocco would allow MINURSO members to return was unclear.

Western Sahara Population

Last May, the leader of the Polisario, Mohamed Abdelaziz, died after a long illness. Abdelaziz died at the age of 68 and has been leading the fight for Western Sahara since the 1970s. In December last year, he was re-elected as Secretary General of Polisario and President of the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). In Algeria, where Polisario is headquartered, the authorities announced eight days of national grief.

In July, Brahim Ghali was elected new Secretary-General and President of SADR.

Since Moroccan forces crossed an important barrier near the Mauritanian city of Nouadhibou on the La Güera Peninsula in August, Polisario warned of war. According to Polisario, Morocco wanted to establish a military beyond the barrier, which served as a limit for the Moroccan presence since the ceasefire was reached between the countries in 1991. By contrast, the Moroccan authorities had sent forces to the area to stop car smuggling and illegal trade.

At the end of August, the UN called for calm after the conflict escalated and both Morocco and Polisario sent troops to the region.

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