Western Sahara. Police intervened in May and June against a large number of Sahrawis in the cities of El-Aaiún, Smara and ad-Dakhla who demonstrated against the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara. A number of protesters were arrested and twelve were sentenced in July to up to eight years in prison, among others..a. for belonging to a forbidden association and being part of an armed crowd.
The Independence Movement Polisario released its last 404 Moroccan prisoners of war on August 18. The released had been imprisoned for 15-20 years, longer than any other prisoners of war in the world.
Moroccan King Muhammad VI said in a speech in November that he wanted to give Western Sahara some form of self-government within Morocco’s borders, something Polisario immediately rejected.
A new UN envoy for Western Sahara was appointed in July by Dutch diplomat Peter van Walsum. He replaced the Peruvian Alvaro de Soto.