Morocco has decried “provocative” acts and “transgressions” at the opening of a regional football tournament in Algeria, a new episode in an ongoing political crisis between the North African neighbours.
Rabat and Algiers are locked in a bitter rivalry partly over the disputed territory of Western Sahara, where the Algerian-backed Polisario movement seeks an independence referendum.
In a statement on Saturday, Morocco’s football federation slammed a “provocative and surreal speech” at the African Nations Championship (CHAN) opening ceremony on Friday in which the grandson of Nelson Mandela called to “free” the disputed territory.
Rabat sees Western Sahara as an integral part of the kingdom and a highly sensitive issue of security and national pride.
“Let us fight to free Western Sahara from oppression,” Mandla Mandela told the crowd at the stadium named in honour of his grandfather, South Africa’s first democratically elected president after the fall of apartheid, in the Algerian city of Constantine.
“Don’t forget the last colony of Africa, Western Sahara,” he added.