In news from Africa, President Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, has called on Morocco to finally hold a referendum in the occupied Western Sahara. Morocco has occupied Western Sahara since 1975, and no other country on Earth recognizes its sovereignty over the territory. In 1991, the U.N. promised Sahrawis a referendum on self-determination. Since then, Morocco has blocked attempts to organize the vote. Bolton spoke on Thursday at the Heritage Foundation.
John Bolton: “All we want to do is hold a referendum for 70,000 voters. It’s 27 years later, the status of the territory still unresolved. … I’ve gotten to know the Sahrawi people. I have enormous respect for them. I have enormous respect for the government and people of Morocco and Algeria. Is there not a way to resolve this?”
Bolton’s comments came a week after Morocco and the Western Saharan liberation movement known as the Polisario Front held their first direct talks in six years. The two sides agreed to continue negotiations in the coming months. U.N. envoy Horst Köhler said, “A peaceful solution to this conflict is possible.” Over the past four decades, thousands of Western Sahara’s indigenous people—the Sahrawi—have been tortured, imprisoned, killed and disappeared while resisting the Moroccan occupation. Click here to see Democracy Now!’s exclusive documentary, “Four Days in Western Sahara: Africa’s Last Colony.”