South Africa detains cargo ship after Western Sahara request

South African authorities have detained a Moroccan cargo ship after Western Sahara's Polisario Front independence movement obtained a court order to seize 54,000 tons of phosphate on board.

The seizure follows a European Union Court of Justice ruling in December that said EU agreements on closer ties and trade with Morocco should not apply to the disputed Western Sahara region. Morocco considers Western Sahara as its "southern provinces" after annexing the former Spanish colony in 1975.

The ship was carrying the phosphate cargo to New Zealand.

Polisario Front member Emhamed Khadad says the export of resources from a "place under occupation" is wrong.

The independence movement initiated legal proceedings in South Africa when it became clear that the cargo ship would call at Port Elizabeth during its journey.