King says he wants to restore normal ties with Algeria, which severed ties with the disputed territory of Western Sahara last August.
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI. has called for diplomatic ties to be restored with neighboring Algeria, which severed diplomatic ties with Rabat last year.
During the traditional speech marking the 22nd anniversary of the king’s accession to the throne on Saturday, Mohammed said he aspires to establish normal relations between the “two brotherly peoples” with Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.
“I reiterate that the borders separating the Moroccan and Algerian brothers will never be barriers that prevent their interaction and understanding,” the monarch said.
He called on Moroccans to “maintain the spirit of brotherhood, solidarity and good neighborliness towards our Algerian brothers” and described the two countries as more than just neighbours.
“We consider the security and stability of Algeria to be part of the security and stability of Morocco,” Mohammed said. “What affects Morocco will also affect Algeria because they are complementary twins.”
Morocco and Algeria have long held disputes over the disputed territory of Western Sahara, where the Algiers-backed Polisario Front is seeking independence from Rabat’s rule.
Algeria severed diplomatic ties with Morocco in August 2021, accusing Rabat of “hostile actions”.
The decision was “completely unjustified,” said Rabat.
The border between Algeria and Morocco has been closed since 1994.
The disputed status of Western Sahara — a former Spanish colony considered a “non-autonomous territory” by the United Nations — has antagonized Morocco against the Polisario front since the 1970s.
Rabat, which controls nearly 80 percent of the territory, is pushing for autonomy under its sovereignty.
However, the Polisario Front wants a UN-backed referendum on self-determination.
Morocco’s sovereignty over the territory was backed by Washington in a 2020 deal in which Rabat also normalized ties with Israel.
Algeria, which supports the Palestinian cause in addition to the front, has taken the opportunity to criticize Morocco’s growing military cooperation with Israel, which it describes as a “Zionist entity”.
Referring to “claims that Moroccans are insulting Algeria and Algerians,” Mohammed said they were the work of “irresponsible individuals trying to sow discord.”
“This gossip about Moroccan-Algerian relations is completely pointless and frankly appalling,” he added.
“We will not be able to cope with internal and external challenges without strengthening social stability and strengthening the economy.”
The king also used Saturday’s speech to promise reform of the family code in favor of women’s rights, social protection and price controls in times of rising inflation.
He also pledged to redouble vaccination efforts to fight COVID-19 and thanked the health sector, security forces and public authorities for the “dedication and sense of responsibility” they have shown during the pandemic.
The reformist king, 58, has ruled Morocco since July 1999, when he succeeded his father Hassan II.