Senegal set to open consulate in Western Sahara

To date, Dakhla is host to consulates from Gambia, Guinea, Djibouti, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Haiti, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as the United States.
Saturday 10/04/2021
Security forces stand guard outside the provisional consulate of the US in Dakhla. (AP)
Security forces stand guard outside the provisional consulate of the US in Dakhla. (AP)

RABAT--Senegal, Morocco’s longstanding regional ally, is set to join the ranks of African countries that have taken their recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara to a tangible consular level.

Citing official sources, Moroccan media reported Senegal is set to open a consulate general in Dakhla , the second most populated city in Western Sahara, on Monday.

The inauguration will be attended by senior diplomats, members of local authorities, as well as notable figures of the community, Moroccan media said.

Senegal’s move in support of Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara sends a strong message in favour of Morocco’s right to the disputed territory.

To date, Dakhla is a host to consulates from Gambia, Guinea, Djibouti, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Haiti, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as the United States.

In Laayoune, the largest city in the southern province, there are  diplomatic missions from Jordan, Comoros, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe, the Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Burundi, Eswatini, Zambia, the UAE, and Bahrain.

Last month, Suriname announced its intention to open a consulate general in Dakhla, as well as inaugurating an embassy in Rabat, with a view to boosting bilateral cooperation and promoting investment and trade.

Western Sahara is a disputed and divided former Spanish colony, mostly under Morocco’s control, where tensions with the Algeria-backed Polisario Front have simmered since the 1970s.

In January, the US started the “process of establishing” a consulate in the Western Sahara, after Washington recognised Morocco’s sovereignty over the disputed territory.

The shift in US foreign policy creates new opportunities for trade and tourism that will likely provide a welcome boost for the region and sun-kissed coastal cities like Dakhla.

Western Sahara’s economy is run by Morocco, which has built most of the territory’s infrastructure and encouraged Moroccans to settle there.