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Last elections reaffirm the Moroccanness of the Sahara

The Moroccan ambassador to the UN, Omar Hilale, underlined the high turnout in the southern regions, which confirms "the unshakeable attachment of the citizens of the south to their Moroccanness"
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The recent Moroccan elections, held on 8 September, were marked mainly by the significant defeat of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), a party linked to the Muslim Brotherhood that gained popularity during the Arab Spring. Another noteworthy aspect was the high turnout across the territory, especially in the southern regions, which are embroiled in a territorial dispute.

Omar Hilale, Moroccan ambassador to the United Nations, has sent letters to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, General Assembly President María Fernández Espinosa and members of the Security Council informing him of the recent elections in Morocco and the high turnout in the Sahara zone. In the case of the Security Council, the Moroccan letter will be published as an official document of the body. Moreover, the text will be recorded in the annals of the UN. 

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"I have the honour to inform you that 8 September 2021 was a historic day for Morocco, marked by the holding, for the first time, of three general elections: legislative, regional and local," begins Hilale. The ambassador underlines that these elections were held throughout the national territory, "including the Moroccan Sahara", and that they experienced a "record participation rate compared to previous elections, despite the constraints imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic".

Hilale highlighted the high turnout in the southern areas, a fact that, according to the ambassador, reaffirms the Moroccanness of the Sahara. "The massive participation of the population of the Moroccan Sahara in these elections is a new confirmation, through the ballot box, of the unshakeable attachment of the citizens of the southern provinces to their Moroccanness," he said.

The Alawite diplomat provided UN officials with data on voter turnout. Hilale reported that in the region of Laâyoune-Sakia El Hamra the rate was 66.94%, while in Dakhla-Oued Ed Dahab it reached 58.30%

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At the provincial level, within the first region, Tarfaya recorded a rate of 85.20%, Es-Smara 67.37%, Laâyoune 68.65% and the province of Boujdour experienced a 64.10% participation rate. On the other hand, in Dakhla-Oued Ed Dahab, the province of Aousserd registered 79.64%, while Oued Ed Dahab got 54.40%.

"The population of the two regions of the Moroccan Sahara showed great support for this triple poll, with the highest turnout rates in Morocco," Hilale said.

The ambassador also pointed out in the letters the large number of national and international observers during the course of the election day. "These elections were followed and observed with complete independence and neutrality by 5,020 national and international observers," he said. These included members of the National Human Rights Council (CNDH), representatives from African, European, Asian and Arab countries. International, regional and civil society organisations also closely followed the elections.

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"All these national and international observers have witnessed the conduct of these elections in a democratic, transparent and inclusive manner, in accordance with the procedures governing electoral processes and the highest international standards," Hilale added.

Following the elections, several international diplomatic delegations praised Morocco's "successful democratic exercise". The Russian embassy, for example, stressed that, despite the health situation, the country managed to "hold a fair and transparent election campaign". The United States, the United Kingdom, Italy and Japan joined in the congratulations. 

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Consultations are already underway to form a new government in the country. Aziz Akhannouch, of the National Rally of Independents (RNI), has been appointed prime minister by King Mohammed VI. Akhannouch has already met with other political leaders such as Abdelatif Ouahbi (PAM) and Driss Lachgar (USFP).