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Has Zambia decided to close its consulate in Laayoune ?

Widely relayed by Algerian and Polisario media, reports on the closing of consulates in Laayoune opened last year, were denied by Zambia and Burundi.

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Algerian media, such as Algerian public television and newspaper Echaab in addition to outlets close to the Polisario reported, Thursday, that Zambia was going to close its consulate in Laayoune. 

They have all quoted a press release relayed by the Algerian Press Service (APS) and reportedly issued by the Zambian government. According to these sources, «this closure comes less than four months after its inauguration, which was qualified as a breach of international law and the Charter of the African Union».

For the Algerian agency, this is «the second similar decision after that of Burundi on January 23, 2021». It wrote that «the decision to open a consulate in Laayoune by Zambia shocked the African continent because it breaches international law and violates the founding charter of the «African Union, especially since the country has long expressed its solidarity with the SADR and the struggle of the Saharawi people for the right to self-determination and independence».

«Some of the countries have opened consulates on occupied Sahrawi lands without having either citizens or economic interests for their openings», it argued, claiming that «several political, diplomatic and human rights voices confirmed that Morocco paid money for the opening of consulates in Dakhla and Laayoune».

Zambia will maintain its Laayoune consulate

On Thursday, the Zambian foreign ministry denied the closure of its embassy and consulate in Morocco. «The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Zambia wishes to confirm that the Zambia Embassy in Rabat in the Kingdom of Morocco together its Consulate in Laayoune continue to be part of Zambia's diplomatic Missions establishment», it announced.

«Any contrary information regarding the status of the two diplomatic outposts should therefore be treated as false», it explained.

The Zambian Foreign ministry explains that «the two posts were inaugurated in October, 2020 and are being manned by a team of Zambian Diplomats».

«The Ministry wishes to take this opportunity to advise that, in order to maximize the benefits of the two missions, Public access and the staffing levels at both the Mission in Rabat and the Consulate in Laayoune will be enhanced once the Covid-19 pandemic has subsided», it added.

Zambian diplomacy finally recalls that its diplomatic representations in Morocco «oversees the welfare of over 300 Zambian students who are currently studying in various parts of Morocco».

Moreover, after announcing its closure for «strategic and reciprocal reasons», Burundi changed its decision regarding its consulate general in Laayoune. Thursday, Bujumbura announced that it is keeping its consulate in Laayoune after Morocco confirmed the opening of an embassy in Burundi.

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