MADRID (AP) – Officials from Spain said on Thursday that a man in charge of the Polisario Front fighting for independence in the Western Sahara had been hospitalized in Spain for treatment of COVID-19.
Brahim al-Ali, 73, leads the Algerian-backed independence movement, which represents the local Sahrawi population, which has regularly fought Moroccan forces to control western Africa.
The self-proclaimed government of the Arab Democratic Republic of Sahrawi, which also leads the country, said in a statement on social media that it was “recovering well” from the disease that the coronavirus could cause.
The statement did not say where Gha Ali was being treated. But a Spanish Foreign Ministry official said Gha Ali had been deported to Spain “for very humanitarian reasons”. The official, who was not authorized to cite names in the LM messages, said no other details could be provided.
“Li Ali was treated for several days and his health was monitored for being infected with the COVID-19 virus,” the Sahrawi Republic said in a statement. She added that her health was “not a cause for concern”.
African media have previously reported that Li ali was being treated in the northern Spanish city of Algeria under a false Algerian identity, allegedly used to evade a re-enactment of an old arrest warrant.
The Spanish National Court investigated ated ali in 2008, then again in 2016. For possible genocide and other crimes as a result of accusations leveled against him by the dissident Sahravi group. But that investigation was closed, և Spain has no cases against Gha Ali. The police spokesman, who was not authorized to give his name, told the Associated Press.
In one of Li Ali’s last public speeches, in late February, he visited a refugee camp in southwestern Algeria, where Polisario և Sahravis fighters are staying, to mark the 45th anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic of Sahrawi.
In his speech, Li Ali called on the new US administration in Biden to find an “urgent democratic solution to the Moroccan-Saharan conflict” so that the people of Western Sahara “can enjoy their inalienable freedom and independence.”
The administration of former US President Donald Trump announced last year that it would open a consulate in Western Sahara after recognizing Morocco’s sovereignty in the region.
The disputed territory could be used in the deal announced by Trump for the establishment of diplomatic relations between Morocco and Israel.
The region stretches along the Atlantic Ocean in Africa, south of the Moroccan resort town of Agadir, bordering Algeria and Mauritania. According to the United Nations, Colorado is about the size of Colorado and has a population of about 600,000. The area was colonized by Spain in the 19th century, and Morocco was annexed in 1975.
Some countries recognize the Western Sahara as independent, some support Morocco’s demands on the country, while others support the UN’s long-standing efforts to find a negotiated solution.
The area is home to one of the UN’s longest-running peacekeepers, which has been working to monitor the ceasefire since 1991 and prepare for a referendum on the region’s future, which has never taken place.
Morocco has offered broad autonomy for the Western Sahara, but the Polisario Front says the local population has the right to hold a referendum.
Fighting erupts from time to time, most recently in November last year, when the Moroccan military launched an operation in the UN-controlled Guerguerat border area to clear a road that it said was blocked by Polisario supporters.
Associated Press writer Joseph Federmann contributed to this report in Jerusalem.