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Nairobi: Hours later, I deleted a tweet by the new Kenyan President William Ruto in which he announced the severing of diplomatic relations of his country with the self-declared Sahrawi Arab Republic, which caused confusion.

“Kenya is rescinding its recognition of the SADR and is taking steps to reduce the presence of this entity in the country,” Ruto wrote on Twitter on Wednesday morning after talks with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.

A little later, he deleted this message without providing an explanation.

The unexpected announcement came just 24 hours after Mr. Ruto’s inauguration ceremony, which was attended by the leader of the Polisario Front, Ibrahim Ghali, in Nairobi.

The Polisario (Independence) Front, backed by Algeria, wants an independent state in Western Sahara, a vast expanse of Sahara that Morocco considers part of its territory.

Mr. Roto said that Mr. Bourita handed him a congratulatory message from Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, adding that the two countries had agreed to improve their relations “among other things in the areas of trade, agriculture, health, tourism and energy”.

Maintaining this message, President Ruto also said on Twitter: “Kenya supports the UN Framework as the exclusive mechanism to find a lasting solution to the conflict.”

Bitter diplomatic battle

Western Sahara is a former Spanish colony, located at the western end of the vast desert of the same name, which stretches along the Atlantic coast.

The Polisario Front, which proclaimed the Sahrawi Republic in 1976, continues to demand, with Algeria’s support, a referendum being planned by the United Nations at the time of the signing of a cease-fire between the belligerents in 1991.

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For its part, Morocco, which controls 80% of the territory, calls for autonomy under its exclusive sovereignty.

The two sides are engaged in a bitter diplomatic battle to secure the support of their allies.

The United Nations, which considers Western Sahara a “non-self-governing territory” in the absence of a final settlement, has deployed a peacekeeping mission there, MINURSO.

Last November, the Italian-Swedish diplomat Staffan de Mistura was appointed as the special envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General in a bid to find a political solution to the conflict.

The African Union (AU) recognizes the SADR as one of its members.

In a speech last month, Mohammed VI urged Morocco’s partner countries to “clarify” their position on the disputed territories of Western Sahara and to support it “unequivocally”.

His Majesty said that this file is “the perspective through which Morocco considers its international environment.”

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