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Morocco annexed the northern two-thirds of Western Sahara (formerly Spanish Sahara) in 1976 and claimed the rest of the territory in 1979, following Mauritania's withdrawal. A guerrilla war with the Polisario Front contesting Morocco's sovereignty ended in a 1991 UN-brokered cease-fire and the nearly 1,700 mile-long defensive sand berm built by the Moroccans from 1980 to 1987 separates the opposing forces with Morocco controlling the roughly 80 percent of the territory west of the berm. A UN-organized referendum on the territory's final status has been repeatedly postponed. The UN since 2007 has sponsored intermittent talks between representatives of the Government of Morocco and the Polisario Front to negotiate the status of Western Sahara. Morocco has put forward an autonomy proposal for the territory, which would allow for some local administration while maintaining Moroccan sovereignty. The Polisario, with Algeria's support, demands a popular referendum that includes the option of independence. Ethnic tensions in Western Sahara occasionally erupt into violence requiring a Moroccan security force response.



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Government

Country name
Conventional long form None
Conventional short form Western Sahara
Former
Rio de Oro, Saguia el Hamra, Spanish Sahara

Government type
Legal status of territory and issue of sovereignty unresolved; territory contested by Morocco and Polisario Front (Popular Front for the Liberation of the Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro), which in February 1976 formally proclaimed a government-in-exile, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), near Tindouf, Algeria, led by President Mohamed ABDELAZIZ; territory partitioned between Morocco and Mauritania in April 1976 when Spain withdrew, with Morocco acquiring northern two-thirds; Mauritania, under pressure from Polisario guerrillas, abandoned all claims to its portion in August 1979; Morocco moved to occupy that sector shortly thereafter and has since asserted administrative control; the Polisario's government-in-exile was seated as an Organization of African Unity (OAU) member in 1984; Morocco between 1980 and 1987 built a fortified sand berm delineating the roughly 80 percent of Western Sahara west of the barrier that currently is controlled by Morocco; guerrilla activities continued sporadically until a UN-monitored cease-fire was implemented on 6 September 1991 (Security Council Resolution 690) by the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO)

Capital
None
Time difference
UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Daylight saving time
+1hr, begins first Sunday in April; ends last Sunday in July

Administrative divisions
None (territory west of the berm under de facto Moroccan control)

Suffrage
None; (residents of Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara participate in Moroccan elections)

Executive branch
None

Political pressure groups and leaders
None

International organization participation
AU, WFTU

Diplomatic representation in the us
None

Diplomatic representation from the us
None


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  Western Sahara [ Undetermined ] (El Aaiun):


  GPS points from Western Sahara [ Undetermined ] (El Aaiun)

Emdeinat Agailas Western Sahara (general)

Aouadi Western Sahara (general)

Samlat Echdar Western Sahara (general)

Provincia Del Sahara Espanol Western Sahara (general)

Idgui Western Sahara (general)

Avuinit Western Sahara (general)

Jachba Western Sahara (general)

Hasi El Mabruc Western Sahara (general)




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