Morocco’s Istiqlal party leader apologises to Mauritania

Chabat caused controversy with his statements

Secretary General of the Istiqlal Party Hamid Chabat apologised to Nouakchott Thursday following statements calling Mauritania “a Moroccan territory” which sparked controversy in both countries.
Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane visited Nouakchott on Wednesday to contain the fallout from Chabat’s statements a day after Morocco's King Mohammed VI had a phone conversation with Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz during which they "discussed fraternal bilateral relations and ways to strengthen them to develop them,", reported the Mauritanian news agency.
The king reiterated to the Mauritanian president "his unfailing support and friendship, as well as his attachment to the neighbourly relations and solidarity between the two countries, based on secular ties and family relationships that have always existed between the two peoples," according to a statement issued on Tuesday by the royal cabinet.
Chabat’s apology came in an editorial article editorial published on Al Alam newspaper, the mouthpiece of the Istiqlal Party.
"If it is necessary to apologize to the Mauritanian people for what may have resulted from a misunderstanding of remarks made by the Secretary General of the Istiqlal Party, the Secretary-General and the leaders of the Istiqlal Party do not hesitate to apologize to Mauritania; its president, government and people," said the article.
“The position of the Istiqlal Party on Mauritania is exactly what was confirmed by King Mohammed VI Mauritanian president Mohamed Abdelaziz in the last phone conversation between them," it added.
The article continued, "the good and the excellent relationship between the Moroccan and Mauritanian brotherly peoples larger than some may be planning to abuse it, good, solid historical ties, and faced many storms, but they always came out victorious and more powerful."
Chabat caused a diplomatic row last week when he called Mauritania “a Moroccan territory”, saying that “Morocco’s borders extend from Ceuta in the north to the Senegal river in the south.”
Benkirane said in Nouakchott that Chabat’s statements were irresponsible and not in line with the Moroccan diplomatic principles.
“These statements reflect only his personal opinion and not the opinion of the King nor Morocco’s government and people,” he added.