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Morocco asks Spanish ambassador to clarify Spain's hosting of Ghali

The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya, argued on Friday that Spain is "a responsible country with its humanitarian obligations"
Atalayar_Brahim Ghali Frente Polisario Sáhara Occidental

AFP/RYAD KRAMDI  -   Brahim Ghali

The Moroccan government has asked the Spanish government to clarify its decision to take in the leader of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, to receive medical attention.

According to authorised Moroccan sources, who requested anonymity, the Spanish ambassador in Rabat, Ricardo Díez-Hochleitner, was called today, Saturday, at the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on this issue, without giving further details.

The Kingdom of Morocco expresses its disappointment at this act, which is contrary to the spirit of partnership and good neighbourliness, and which concerns a fundamental issue for the Moroccan people and its living forces.

Consulted by EFE in Madrid, the Diplomatic Information Office (OID) said: "After the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation confirmed that Mr Brahim Ghali had been transferred to Spain for strictly humanitarian reasons so that he could receive medical assistance, a director general of the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs was interested in knowing more details and, to this end, requested a meeting with our ambassador in Rabat, with whom he held a meeting in which they discussed the matter".

Atalayar_Brahim Ghali Frente Polisario Sáhara Occidental
AFP/TONY KARUMBA - Brahim Ghali

"The meeting took place within the normal diplomatic relations between the two countries," added the Spanish Foreign Ministry spokesman.

However, in Rabat, the online newspaper 'le360.com', considered close to the Royal Palace, claimed that the purpose of the ambassador's call was to express the Moroccan government's 'exasperation' at the attitude of the Spanish government, which it described as 'disloyal'.

Spain's attitude raises great incomprehension and legitimate questions: Why was the so-called Brahim Ghali admitted to Spain on the sly and with a false passport? Why did Spain consider it useful not to inform Morocco? Why did it opt for his admission under a false identity? Why has the Spanish justice system not yet reacted to the numerous complaints lodged by the victims?

The portal, which quoted an unidentified source, said that Ghali's entry into Spain "on the sly" sent the message that "the Spanish authorities have not considered Morocco as a friend and privileged partner (...) Why has it chosen to manoeuvre, not to say act behind Morocco's back", it asked. 

Atalayar_Arancha Gomez Laya
AFP/  JOHN THYS - The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha Gonzalez Laya

The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha Gonzalez Laya, argued on Friday that Spain is "a responsible country with its humanitarian obligations" and that the reception of Ghali in a hospital in a city that has not been officially specified is only a "strictly medical" matter.

"I want to make it clear," added the minister, "that this issue in no way impedes or disturbs the excellent relations that Spain has with Morocco, which is not only a neighbour and a friend, but also a privileged partner in economic, political, migratory, business and climate change matters. And that does not change."

The Presidency of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) clarified in a statement that Ghali was infected with the coronavirus, but that his state of health "is not a cause for concern and is evolving favourably", but did not give details about the place of his hospitalisation, which according to various sources is a centre in Logroño (a city in northeastern Spain).