Istiqlal Party SG’s Statement on Mauritania Reflects a Personal Viewpoint, Benkirane

The recent statements on Mauritania’s territorial integrity made by the Istiqlal party Secretary General “reflect only a personal point of view and are not in line with the permanent features of Moroccan diplomacy,” said Head of the Government Abdelilah Benkirane who had been received Wednesday by President Mohammed Ould Abdelaziz of Mauritania.
Benkirane was dispatched by King Mohammed VI to Mauritania “to dispel any misunderstanding” following the irresponsible remarks made by the Istiqlal party Secretary General, Hamid Chabat, last weekend.

Benkirane expressed to the Mauritanin Head of State King Mohammed VI’s determination to consolidate the Kingdom’s relations with Mauritania, strengthen dialogue between the two countries in various fields and step up bilateral relations to an exemplary partnership in all areas.

He also reiterated the firm position of the Moroccan King and Government regarding the respect of Mauritania’s sovereignty, its international borders and its territorial integrity.
On Tuesday, King Mohammed VI had a phone conversation with President Mohammed Ould Abdelaziz during which he renewed his “attachment to the neighborliness and solidarity relations between the two countries,” insisting that his country recognizes the territorial integrity of Mauritania in conformity with international law.
During the phone talk, the two Heads of State voiced their determination to preserve this relationship against any attempt seeking to undermine it, the royal office had said in a statement.
At its weekly meeting held the same day, the Government Council expressed “total support” to all the measures undertaken by the King to address the impact of Chabat’s statements on Mauritania.
The Moroccan Foreign ministry had also issued a strong-worded statement describing Chabat’s remarks as irresponsible and dangerous.
The Istiqlal Party, the oldest political party in the country, founded in 1944, has apologized to Mauritania for the unwise comments made by its Secretary General.
The Istiqlal Party offered its apology to the Mauritanian people and government in an editotial published Thursday by Alam newspaper, the party’s mouthpiece.
The editorialist said that the sound relations binding the brotherly Moroccan and Mauritanian peoples are greater than any plots and that the two countries’ “good and solid historical ties have weathered many storms; have always come out victorious and more powerful.”
Several senior members of the Istiqlal Party have also slammed the “politically incorrect” remarks made by Chabat.
In this vein, members of the Istiqlal Party’s Council of Elders, including Mhamed Boucetta and Abbas El Fassi, both former Secretary Generals of the Istiqlal Party, convened a meeting with Chabat on Monday evening and harshly rebuked him for his unfortunate statements. They challenged him to find any reference where the party contested Mauritanian territorial integrity.
On his part, Taoufiq Hejira, the President of the National Council of the Istiqlal Party, the second decision-making body of the party after the General Congress, said that the statement of the Secretary-General on Mauritania was “eminently personal” and that neither its choice, timing nor content have been reviewed and approved by any institution of the party.

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