Spain isolates the Polisario Front

The Supreme Court bans the use of unofficial flags on public buildings and spaces
The Supreme Court of Spain


New setback for the Polisario Front in Spain. The Supreme Court this week vetoed the occasional or permanent use of "unofficial" flags or any political expression inside or outside public buildings, according to the Moroccan news agency MAP. In the ruling, it is stated that the use of unofficial flags, banners or symbols, such as those of the Polisario separatists, in public buildings and spaces, "is not compatible with the constitutional and legal framework in force", nor with the "duty of objectivity and neutrality of the Spanish administrations". 

Thus, "whether occasionally or permanently, the Polisario flag must not coexist 'with the flag of Spain and other flags established by law or by statute', stresses the Supreme Court ruling, which puts an end to one of the strangest anomalies in a democratic country like Spain," MAP reports.

The Spanish government led by Pedro Sanchez has been clarifying its position and political line on the dispute over Western Sahara since 2018. In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly last September, the head of the executive defended Spain's neutrality without mentioning, at any time, either the Polisario Front or its request for a referendum of self-determination. "The Spanish government supports the efforts of the UN Secretary General in the search for a just, lasting and mutually acceptable policy and solution", he stressed in New York.  

Another more recent movement which shows how Spain has progressively isolated the Polisario Front took place on 25th May. On the occasion of the celebration of Africa Day, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Arancha González Laya, shared on Twitter an image with all the flags of the member states of the African Union, with the exception of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), self-proclaimed by the Polisario Front with the approval of Algeria.

Reactions of the Polisario

In a statement published the day after the Supreme Court's judgement was announced, the movement attacked Spain and asked it to recognise "the historical, legal and moral responsibility of the Spanish state" to support the self-proclaimed SADR against Morocco in the search for an equitable solution to the conflict in Western Sahara. In the statement, the Polisario Front also attacked the European Union for taking a position in favour of Rabat and to the detriment of the movement: "For decades, the EU has not only ignored the conflict, but has also fed it with agreements which only benefit Morocco, while limiting its attention to the efforts of conflict resolution undertaken by the UN", one can read in the note. 

A Bulgarian MEP recently called on the European Parliament to arrest the Polisario because it was "exploiting the humanitarian situation" in the Tindouf camps in Algeria. This provoked the anger of the movement, which is reflected in its statement, also taking the opportunity to thank Algeria for its continued support: "Our deepest gratitude, in the name of the Saharawi people, to the Algerian people, under the President of the Republic, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, for the constant support of the struggle for Saharawi liberation". In short, yet another episode which intensifies the "cold war" in the Maghreb between Rabat and Algiers.