Moroccan King Mohamed gave a speech about Western Sahara on Saturday but made no mention of Algerian allegations that Morocco targeted Algerian civilians in an incident last week in what the United Nations said was in disputed territory.
Algerian allegations sparked fears of further escalation between North African rivals after Algeria cut diplomatic ties, cut off gas supplies to Morocco and blocked Algerian airspace for Moroccan flights.
Relations between the countries have been strained over the years, but have worsened since last year when the Algerian-backed Polisario Front said it was resuming its armed struggle for the independence of Western Sahara, a region that Morocco considers its own. Is.
King Mohammed’s silence on the dispute with Algeria in his annual speech on Western Sahara is in line with Moroccan practice, when Algeria broke ties in August by ignoring all statements coming from Algiers.
However, on Wednesday, Algeria alleges that Morocco killed three civilians driving in the Sahara on Monday, raising the stakes sharply.
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune vowed in a statement that the deaths of the three people “will not happen without punishment.”
Morocco has not formally responded to the allegation.
A UN spokesman said on Friday that UN peacekeeping forces in Western Sahara, an area outside Moroccan control, visited the site of the incident and found two badly damaged Algerian-plated trucks. The spokesman said Minerso was investigating the incident.
Last year the United States recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara as part of a deal that also included Rabat to strengthen ties with Israel.
Morocco has since been more vocal in prompting European countries to follow suit. However, they have not done so, and in September an EU court ruled that some European trade deals with Morocco were invalid because they involved products originating in the Western Sahara region.
King Mohamed said on Saturday that Morocco would not agree to “any economic or commercial move that excludes the Moroccan Sahara”.