Moroccan delegation in Sweden for decision on Western Sahara

2:27 min

The delegation of Moroccan MPs who travelled to Stockholm to confirm that Sweden is not about to recognize Western Sahara, has spoken to media following a meeting on Wednesday with the cabinet secretary at the Swedish Foreign Ministry.

Rumours in the North African kingdom that Sweden has recognized Western Sahara, led to demonstrations last week, with threats to boycott Swedish companies operating there, including Ikea, which was due to open its first store in Morocco.

Last week, the Moroccan government said Sweden has been campaigning to boycott products from Western Sahara and international companies with a presence there. However, following meetings in Stockholm, Wednesday, Nabila Mounib, the General Secretary of the Moroccan Socialist Party PSU, seemed to accept that the rumours were without foundation.

"We believe and hope that Sweden will have a peaceful position on the Western Sahara issue", she told Swedish Radio News, after a meeting with Annika Söder, cabinet secretary at the Foreign Ministry.

Morocco has controlled most of Western Sahara since 1975 and claims the stretch of desert, which has offshore fishing, phosphate reserves and oilfield potential, as its own. The International Court of Justice has ruled that the Sahrawis have the right to their land, and Morocco has been accused of violating human rights.

According to the Moroccan delegation, it is a small group of separatists who want to free themselves from Morocco, and stressed several times that there are no parallels between Western Sahara and the Palestinian question.

Sweden and other Scandinavian countries have backed Western Saharan self-determination, while France and Spain have been accused by activists and human rights organisations of supporting the Moroccan line.

Almost three years ago, the Swedish parliament voted to recognize Western Sahara but this has not been enacted by the Swedish government. The message from the Foreign Ministry and Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, is that it's not relevant right now. They are waiting on the results of an internal review to be completed in February next year.

Speaking about stopping the opening of Morocco's first Ikea store, Nabila Mounib from the Moroccan  Socialist Party PSU, told Swedish Radio News that it was an administration issue and she hoped that good trade relations between the two countries could continue and did not see any obstacles to Ikea establishing themselves in her country.

Swedish-labelled companies have been operating in Morocco for decades, including Volvo Cars, H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB and Volkswagen-owned Scania.