The King of Morocco Mohammed VI sent, on Saturday, September 18, a message of “Condolences and compassion” to Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune, following the death of former Head of State Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
“In this painful circumstance, HM the King expresses to the Algerian President and, through him, to the family of the deceased and to the brotherly Algerian people, His deep condolences and His sincere compassion”, affirms this message disseminated by the press agency MAP, at a time when the two neighboring countries of the Maghreb are going through a serious diplomatic crisis.
Abdelaziz Bouteflika, ousted from power in 2019 after massive popular protests against his desire to run for a new term, died on Friday at the age of 84.
In his two messages, the Moroccan monarch “Said to remember the particular ties that bound the deceased to Morocco, whether during the periods of childhood and studies in the city of Oujda or at the time of activism for the independence of sister Algeria, adding let history remember that the late Bouteflika marked an important phase in the modern history of Algeria ”.
Western Sahara, a bone of contention
Mr. Bouteflika was born on March 2, 1937 in Oujda, Morocco, very close to the Algerian border, in a family originating from the region of Tlemcen (north-west of Algeria).
The Moroccan sovereign announces his “Deep sorrow and deep emotion” after hearing the news of the death of the former Algerian president, which occurs in the midst of a diplomatic freeze between Algiers and Rabat.
On August 24, Algeria severed diplomatic relations with Morocco, accusing it “Hostile actions” after months of heightened tensions between these two rival Maghreb countries. Morocco, for its part, regretted this decision “Completely unjustified” and rejected “The fallacious, even absurd, pretexts which underlie it”.
Relations between the two neighboring countries are traditionally difficult because of the thorny issue of Western Sahara in particular.
At the end of July, the Moroccan sovereign had deplored the “Tensions” with Algeria, inviting Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune “To make wisdom prevail” and “Work in unison to develop relationships” between the two countries.
Diplomatic ties had been severed for the first time between the two countries when on March 7, 1976, Rabat ended its relations with Algiers, which had recognized the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), self-proclaimed by the separatists of the Polisario Front. The border between Algeria and Morocco has been officially closed since August 16, 1994.