Morocco’s OCP Says South African Court Not ‘Competent’ to Rule on Phosphate Shipment

Rabat - Moroccan state-run phosphates group Office chérifien de phosphates (OCP) has slammed a South African court ruling judging the detention of a phosphate shipment in Port Elizabeth “legal.”

The group issued a statement stating the court is not competent to rule in such a matter, adding that the judgment is politically motivated.

“OCP Group is outraged by this decision,” reads the statement. “This decision is in breach of well-established principles under international law.”

On Thursday, a panel of judges in Port Elizabeth court ruled the detention of the shipment carried by NM Cherry Blossom as correct, and stated that a trial will be held to determine ownership of the cargo. The shipment, which had been on its way to New Zealand, has been detained since early May following a motion by Polisario Front opposing the shipment of phosphate from Western Sahara.

Polisario claimed the shipments were “illegal” because the phosphate was extracted from Western Sahara, which it considers its own sovereign territory.

A similar motion was issued in May in Panama, where another shipment was held while heading to Canada. However, earlier in June a court decision dismissed Polisario claims.

The South African court judgement, which stands in stark contrast with the decision by the court in Panama, confirms South Africa’s longtime bias towards Polisario. The move taken by South Africa violates international law as the shipment constitutes no danger to its security and good order or environment. There is also no legal basis that says Morocco cannot exploit phosphate in Western Sahara.

Attempts by Polisario to obstruct the way of Moroccan phosphate shipments highlighted the organization’s frenzied behavior in recent months, since the start of the crisis in the buffer strip of Guerguerat back in August 2016.

While Morocco responded positively to the United Nations’ calls for restraint and pulling out of the buffer zone, Polisario maintained presence until the last minute in late April, prompting criticism from the Security Council members prior to the adoption of Resolution 2351.

The separatist group ultimately yielded to international pressure and pulled out its armed members. However, the attempts to stop Moroccan phosphate cargos indicated a new series of provocations by the separatist organization.

“The Polisario front, its sponsors and proxies have embarked on a path whose only effect is to harm the interests of the local community that they claim to defend,” said OCP’s communiqué.

As the statement noted, the South African court has no jurisdiction to decide on such a political issue which “falls under the purview of the UN Security Council.”

“By instigating this lawsuit just one day after the UN Security Council’s resolution and the Secretary-General's call to resume talks in good faith and without preconditions with the support of the international community, the Polisario Front displays its inclination to undermine the proper conduct of the United Nations Security Council process and hamper the socioeconomic development of the region.”

OCP Group affirmed that its “operations and activities in full compliance with international law and in particular the applicable United Nations framework on exploitation of natural resources.”




  • The Moroccan Gold Eldorado

    The Moroccan Gold Eldorado, a Myth or a Reality?

    Rabat - Recently, a conspiracy theory video about a large gold discovery in Morocco is making rounds online. The video claims that a substantial gold reserve was discovered and is being extracted by a Canadian mining company called Maya Gold and Silver. We Moroccans are very proud human beings, we love our country and cherish...

  • Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani

    Qatar: How the Tables Are Turning in The Gulf

    Rabat - Amidst harsh sanctions and a long list of demands from its neighbors, Qatar’s ability to thrive under pressure may prove to be problematic for Saudi Arabia. As Saudi Arabia and its coalition attempt to wait out Qatar, the recent spat in the Gulf continues to become more and more global, and severely against...

  • FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, a plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. If the nation doesn’t do more, the U.S. probably won’t quite meet the dramatic heat-trapping gas reduction goal it promised in last year’s Paris agreement to battle climate change, according to a new study. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

    Climate Change : If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Fix It

    Chefchaouen - Climate change is happening at home and around the world. Chefchaouen is doing its part by embracing clean energy climate solutions and engaging its citizens in climate action. When it comes to fighting climate change, cities and local leaders are best positioned to lead that charge. Local leaders from coastal to landlocked communities are...

  • 20

    India Orders Internal Probe into Mistaken Use of Morocco-Spain Border Picture

    Hyderabad - The Indian Ministry of Interior on Wednesday ordered an internal investigation to find out how a picture of Morocco-Spain border was used in its annual report to show floodlights along the India-Pakistan border. What is most embarrassing is that the annual report of previous years was tabled during the Budget Session of Indian...

  • Amid Growing Tension, Thousands of Moroccans Stage Pro-Rif March in Rabat

    Neglect in Harsh Soil: The Deep Roots of the Rif Crisis

    Rabat - The ongoing protests in northern Morocco started almost eight months ago, but they have their origin in nearly a century of violent repression by the state. The Rif has, in spite of itself, got involved into a peaceful revolt since the death of the fishmonger Mohcine Fikri at the end of October 2016, a...

  • Tamim Bin Hamad al Thani emir of Qatar

    The Qatar Crisis: What Does It Mean?

    Rabat - The recent diplomatic fallout between Qatar and the rest of the Middle East could have serious economic and geopolitical consequences across the globe. Earlier this week, Qatar’s diplomatic crisis took an extreme turn as several Arab states severed diplomatic ties with the Gulf nation.  The original list of countries in the coalition against...

  • Moroccans spend Laylat al-Qadr, the 26th day of Ramadan, at the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca.

    Ramadan: Not just Abstinence from Daily Intakes 

    By Abdellatif Oudra Rabat - The observance of Ramadan, one of the five pillars of Islam, compels Muslims to fast from sunrise to sunset. But it is not just about abstaining from food or drink.  Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is observed in commemoration of the revelation of Qur’an to the prophet Mohammad,...

  • Morocco Threatens to Terminate Agriculture Agreement with Europe

    Morocco and the EU: Managing the Future

    Rabat - Morocco enjoys proximity to Europe and is at an advantage of being favoured by the European Union as a close partner on political, economic, and cultural levels. Historical archives and political legacies tie Morocco directly with at least three influential European countries: France, Spain, and England. Demography, kinship, and immigration compel other EU...

  • The Educational and Cultural Implications of the Arab Spring

    The Educational and Cultural Implications of the Arab 'Spring'

    Rabat - In the last ten years or so, the Arab world has seen unprecedented collapses in the realms of politics and economy, among others. World NGOs regularly release area-specific rankings, in which Arab nations commonly rank at the bottom of lists in education, human rights, and income for instance while they top those of...

  • Thousands Hold Peaceful Demonstration in Memory of Mouhcine Fikri

    Al Hoceima and the Pedagogical Exercise

    Ottawa - What makes a democracy different from non-democracy? This is the classical and historical question asked by philosophers over the centuries and deeply questioned in the discipline of political science. Democracy cannot prevent inequality as the case in the United States where inequality is the highest globally. Democracy cannot stop corruption like in Brazil...