The Moroccan Ambassador to Nigeria has been recalled by the Moroccan Foreign Ministry over a recent diplomatic incident between the two nations.
The development comes on the heels of media reports that the head of the Moroccan government, King Mohammed VI recently rejected a request by President Goodluck Jonathan for a telephone conversation and, possibly, an invitation to Nigeria.
The monarch was reported to have described the move as “inappropriate” while the Moroccan Foreign Ministry released a statement in which it asserted that the request portended something other than a genuine diplomatic move.
“Contrary to the allegations made by Nigerian authorities to the ambassador of HM the King in Abuja and local media, the Kingdom of Morocco confirms, in the clearest and strongest terms, that there has never been a phone conversation between HM King Mohammed VI and the President of this country,” the ministry pointed out in a statement.
“His Majesty the King actually declined the request of the Nigerian government because it is part of the internal electioneering and this country’s fundamentally hostile positions with regard to the territorial integrity of the Kingdom,” the statement said.
“The Kingdom of Morocco expresses its astonishment and denunciation to these unethical practices that are contrary to the spirit of responsibility that must prevail in relations between states,” the ministry added.
The Nigerian foreign ministry however denied reports that Jonathan was rebuffed by the Moroccan monarch, claiming instead that the king had spoken to the President from France where he had gone for a visit.
The ministry further debunked insinuations that the phone call was intended to dubiously curry electoral favours for President Jonathan who will be seeking re-election at the polls on March 28.
“Since the King was in France and not in Morocco, both leaders spoke extensively over the telephone on matters of mutual interest and concern that have nothing to do with the conduct of re-scheduled elections in Nigeria.
“It is therefore preposterous to suggest that Mr President’s telephone call to the Moroccan monarch was intended to confer any electoral advantage on the President,” the statement from the Nigerian foreign ministry read.
Moroccan authorities responded to this statement by denouncing the claim that the monarch spoke with President Jonathan.
Apparently miffed, the office of King Mohammed IV also recalled the Morrocan ambassador to Nigeria, issuing a statement which described the claim that a discussion took place between King Mohammed and President Jonathan as “unethical practices.”
The statement also expressed a desire to state in the “clearest and strongest terms” that “there has never been a phone conversation” between the King and President Jonathan.
“The King’s office categorically denies the false allegations made by Nigerian authorities about an alleged phone conversation between the Sovereign and Nigerian President,” the statement said.
Diplomatic relations between Nigeria and Morocco have been generally cold due to Nigeria’s formal recognition of, and support for a separatist group, the Polisario Front which has declared a portion of
Moroccan territory as the sovereign Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
The Moroccan government has consistently and violently resisted attempts by the Polisario Front to establish a sovereign republic in Western Sahara region of Morocco.