Was Senegal's press agency slammed by Morocco for an article on Western Sahara ?

Recent news reports suggested that the Senegalese press agency published an article on Western Sahara that was reportedly slammed by Morocco. The agency, however, stated that the article in question dates back to 2009, all while hailing the Moroccan-Senegalese diplomatic ties.

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King Mohammed VI and Senegalese President Macky Sall./Ph. DR

Several Senegalese newspapers reported this week that the country’s press agency (APS) published an article on the Western Sahara conflict that was not really appreciated by Morocco. Entitled «Morocco urged to release Saharawi human rights activists», the article in question was signed by the agency’s special envoy in Midrand, South Africa, Ousmane Ibrahima Dia.

The article was mainly focused on a group of «human rights activists who visited the Tindouf camps», reports Senegalese online newspaper Senegal 7.

It reports that the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), the legislative body of the African Union, urged the African Union and the United Nations to «put pressure on Morocco, so that it releases pro-Polisario activists, who visited the Tindouf camps», the same source added.

PAP’s call comes after one of its pro-Polisario MPs called Ouadadi Cheikh Ahmed El Heiba, submitted a motion that referred to «Sahrawis’ right to self-determination».

Reportedly, Karim Bouzida, who is believed to be King Mohammed VI’s advisor, sent a note to the Senegalese press agency, denouncing the content of the article in question, which according to him «harms Morocco’s interests». In his message, Bouzida slammed APS for giving a «unilateral platform to one of the Kingdom’s opponents», Senegal 7 wrote.

It is a 2009 article, APS says

In a press release made public on Wednesday, January the 30th, the Senegalese agency gave its version of the story. In fact, APS said that «said article was published in November the 2nd, 2009», stating that it «reports a meeting that was held in Midrand, South Africa, in the same year».

Without commenting on the alleged note sent by Bouzida, the agency indicated, in its communiqué, that at the time the article was revised and published, all while «taking the necessary precautions». APS stressed that «it took into consideration the sensitivity of the topic and the diplomatic relations that Senegal has with the Kingdom».

Meanwhile, the agency expressed surprise over the reappearance of this article, questioning the reasons behind that. Moreover, APS hailed the strong bilateral ties between Morocco and Senegal.

For the record, Senegal is Morocco’s closest ally in Africa. The two countries share economic, political and religious ties, even when it comes to the Western Sahara question. King Mohammed VI’s first speech outside the Kingdom was aired from Dakar, on the 41st anniversary of the Green March.

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