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Tensions flare in Western Sahara dispute

One word used by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was all it took to reignite tensions over disputed territory in northwest Africa.
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TINDOUF, Algeria — Tempers are heating up in Western Sahara. Despite a quarter-century of negotiations aimed at settling the dispute between Morocco and the indigenous Sahrawi people of Western Sahara, Moroccan authorities expelled UN personnel this week after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the situation there as an "occupation." 

A war of words threatens the 25-year cease-fire. The two rivals in the mineral-rich North African territory have been under continuous UN mediation in an effort to reach a political solution since 1991. At that time, the UN Security Council promised the Sahrawi people the right to vote on whether to be a part of Morocco or to become an independent state (the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic). The Sahrawis are saying that Morocco, by expelling the UN representatives, has left them with no choice but to take up arms again.

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