On account of the statements made by the Consul General in the city of Oran

Argelia convoca al embajador marroquí para pedir explicaciones

PHOTO/REUTERS - The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Algeria, Sabri Boukadoum

The Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sabri Boukadoum called the Moroccan Ambassador to Algeria, Lahcen Abdelkhalek, to ask him to explain the controversial declarations of the Consul General in the city of Oran calling Algeria an "enemy country".

In a statement released to the media, the head of Algerian diplomacy explained that the Moroccan representative had been notified that the words of the consul represent "a serious violation of diplomatic customs and habits which cannot be tolerated". "It is also an affront to the nature of relations between two neighbouring countries and two brotherly peoples, which requires the Moroccan authorities to take appropriate measures to avoid the consequences of this incident on bilateral relations," he added.

The controversy erupted this week after a video began to circulate on social networks and private televisions in which the consul could be seen surrounded by a group of Moroccan citizens who had come to the Consulate to express their discontent with the delay in their repatriation.

At one point, the diplomat, who was trying to calm the situation, said: "You can come in the morning, the door of the Consulate is open, now you can leave and I tell you frankly that we are in an enemy country".

The usual tension between the two neighbours, who have kept their borders closed for decades, began to rise at the beginning of this month of May after the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs accused Algeria of "feeding separatism" during a speech given at the summit of the contact group of the Non-Aligned Movement.

These relations are suffering from recurrent episodes of tension because of the conflict in Western Sahara, in which Rabat accuses Algiers of being the real stakeholder in the independence of this territory and of using the independence movement, the Polisario Front, for this purpose.

The land border between the two countries had been closed since 1994 by decision of Algiers, in reaction to the imposition of the visa requirement for Algerians following a terrorist attack on a hotel in Marrakech which Rabat had then attributed to the Algerian secret services.