Africa

Ikea Morocco opening 'halted over W Sahara row'

An Ikea store under construction in Morocco Image copyright AP
Image caption The vast store near Casablanca had its opening cancelled at the last-minute

Morocco has blocked the opening of Ikea's first store in the country, reportedly over Sweden's support for separatists in the Western Sahara.

The Swedish-founded furniture giant was due to open the new store on Tuesday.

The Moroccan authorities said the opening was halted because the site lacked the correct permit.

But Le 360 reported (in French) that it was because of Stockholm's plans to back independence for Western Sahara, a region controlled by Morocco.

The decision was reached after an emergency cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane., the report said.

A former Spanish colony, Western Sahara was seized by Morocco in 1975. But the Polisario Front, backed by Algeria, has been seeking independence.

Sweden has supported self-determination for the region, but the foreign ministry said that while its policy on Western Sahara was under review, it had not recognised the region as an independent state, AP news agency reported.

Ikea has yet to comment on the decision.

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