Algeria summons Moroccan ambassador over “enemy” remark by consul

ALGIERS, ALGERIA - JANUARY 26: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune hold a joint press conference following their meeting at presidential office in Algiers, Algeria on January 26, 2020. Ercin Top / Anadolu Agency

The Moroccan ambassador has been summoned by Algerian authorities following a video circulating on social media that showed one of his consul general calling Algeria an “enemy” country.

In the widely shared video, a man presented as the consul of Morocco in Algeria’s second city Oran is seen speaking to Moroccans complaining about being stranded there due to coronavirus travel restrictions, an AFP Report said.

The diplomat is seen trying to explain the difficulties involved in their repatriation, and is heard saying, “this country is your enemy, to tell you frankly”.

Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum summoned Rabat’s ambassador over the “comments by Morocco’s consul general in Oran during an exchange with Moroccan citizens”, his ministry said in a statement carried by the official APS agency on Thursday.

The relations between the North African countries have long been tense, particularly over the Western Sahara, a disputed former Spanish colony on Africa’s Atlantic coast that is mostly under Morocco’s control.

Algeria has backed the Western Sahara’s Polisario Front, which fought a war for independence from Morocco between 1975 and 1991, and demands a referendum on self-determination.

Morocco, which maintains that Western Sahara is an integral part of the kingdom, has offered autonomy but insists it will retain sovereignty.

United Nations-led negotiations are at a standstill.

The shared frontier between Algeria and Morocco has been closed since 1994, and Morocco has shut its other borders to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Algerian foreign ministry warned that a diplomat calling it an “enemy country” would constitute a serious violation, and urged Rabat to take “appropriate measures” to protect bilateral relations.

The incident came after Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said earlier this month that a “neighbouring country continues to fuel separatism”.

The comments were cited by Moroccan news agency MAP, which added that they referred to Algeria.

Moroccan King Mohammed VI last year called for a “new page” on relations with its neighbour, after the election of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune in December.

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