Sahara's Polisario Front threatens new armed struggle

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Polisario Front separatist movement in the Western Sahara (RASD) Mohamed Salem Ould Salek speaks to the press on December 1, 2010 at the EU headquarters in Brussels. (AFP Photo/Georges Gobet)

Algiers (AFP) - The Western Sahara's Polisario Front independence movement threatened Sunday to take up arms again after Morocco's king said his country will stay there "until the end of time".

Algeria's APS news agency cited Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, the group's designated foreign minister,as saying the Sahrawis "will have no other choice but to return to armed struggle" in the face of international inertia on the issue and Morocco not respecting international law.

Morocco annexed the former Spanish colony in 1975, in a move not recognised internationally, and has proposed broad autonomy for the vast territory under its sovereignty.

This is rejected by the Algeria-backed Polisario, which insists on the right of the Sahrawi people to a referendum on self-determination.

Morocco's King Mohamed VI, marking the 39th anniversary of the Western Sahara's annexation on Thursday, warned that "Morocco will stay in the Sahara and the Sahara will stay in Morocco until the end of time".

The Polisario Front rejects Rabat's proposal of wide autonomy and fought Moroccan troops for a decade and a half until the United Nations negotiated a ceasefire in 1991.

The Western Sahara dispute is the main bone of contention between Algeria and Morocco whose common border has been closed for two decades.