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Western Sahara controversy hits Congress

Morocco comes under scrutiny on human rights panel.

Congress' human rights panel is taking a rare look this week at US ally Morocco's controversial record in the disputed Western Sahara.

The March 23 hearing by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission comes as the 25-year-old UN mission to set up a referendum in the resource-rich area is set to expire next month barring another extension. Morocco announced last week that it was ending its $3 million contribution to the mission after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the country's presence an "occupation," which sparked a mass protest in Rabat. 

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