Morocco and the Polisario attend the inauguration of Panama’s new president

Saadeddine El Othmani arrived, Sunday, in Panama to attend the inauguration ceremony of the country’s newly elected President. The Polisario’s leader Brahim Ghali is invited to the same event, taking place in Panama City.

The delegations attending the inauguration ceremony of Panama's newly elected President. / Ph. DR
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Morocco’s Prime Minister Saadeddine El Othmani flew, Sunday, to Panama to attend the inauguration of the country's newly elected President Laurentino Cortizo, taking place on Monday.

At the Tocumen international airport, in Panama City, El Othmani was received by Panama’s deputy minister of Foreign Affairs Luis Miguel Hincapié.

On his official Twitter account, the head of government published a photo with the Panamanian official, stressing that this trip is an opportunity for the Kingdom to strengthen ties with the Central American country.

«This participation reflects Morocco’s wish to deepen ties with Panama, to revive bilateral relations (…) and launch a formal political dialogue while ensuring that a strategic partnership is established in the service of both countries and their major causes», El Othmani wrote Sunday on Twitter.

On Monday, MAP news agency reported that El Othmani is in Panama following the orders of King Mohammed VI. El Othmani told the news agency that the government will work on strengthening «ties with Panama», as it plays a significant role in Central America.

El Othmani and Ghali attending the same event

On Saturday, the Polisario’s leader Brahim Ghali arrived in Panama City. Unlike El Othmani, Ghali was received by representatives from the Panamanian National Authorities, the Front’s news agency (SPS) reported, without referring to the names and positions of these officials.

In Panama City, the leader of the separatist movement «reiterated the sincere will to consolidate» ties with the Central American country. The same source indicated that Brahim Ghali will be holding meetings with Panamanian officials, heads of state and government and invited delegations. Indeed, on Sunday, Ghali met with the newly elected Panamanian president.

Panama recognized «SADR» on July 23, 1978, and was the first Latin American country to do so. It was also the first country to host a Polisario «embassy» in the Americas (1980).

In November 2013, the Panamanian government announced in a communiqué released by its Foreign Affairs Ministry that it decided to freeze its recognition of «SADR».  

However, Panama’s position was changed later, normalizing relations with the Polisario Front on January 8, 2015. During the same year, the country opened an embassy in Rabat.

In January 2016, Salaheddine Mezouar, then Minister of Foreign Affairs and international Cooperation, chaired the opening ceremony of the Kingdom’s embassy in the Republic of Panama.

Although Panama maintained relations with the Polisario, it remained keen to maintain good relations with Morocco. In June 2017, a Panama court rejected a claim issued by the Polisario Front to block a Danish vessel that was carrying OCP phosphate rocks.

For the record, earlier in June, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele said on his Twitter account that San Salvador has withdrawn its recognition of «SADR». The decision was announced after Foreign Affairs Minister Nasser Bourita visited the country as part of a tour to Latin America.

Days later, Barbados announced that it withdrew recognition of «SADR», during a visit conducted by the country’s Prime Minister Mia Mottley to Morocco.

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