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This Day in African History — Spain Abandons Western Sahara

By November 14, 2013

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On 14 November 1975 the Franco government signed the tripartite Madrid Agreement with Morocco and Mauritania for the proposed administration of the region. Earlier in the month, 6 November, Morocco's King Hassan had ordered 350,000 people to begin the Green March into Western Sahara with the intent of annexing the entire country. The capital, Laayoune, was captured shortly afterwards. Mauritania also made moves to take control of the region.

Claims by Morocco and Mauritania were rejected by The International Court of Justice, who found for the indigenous Saharawis' right to self-determination. The Madrid Agreement, however, resulted in a two-thirds to one-third partition between Morocco and Mauritania, which came into effect on 28 February 1976. (Mauritania renounced its claim in 1979 and Morocco seized the whole country.)


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