Morocco Blocks Ikea Store in Reported Diplomatic Rift With Sweden

Abdeljalil Bounhar / AP

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By The Associated Press

Morocco's government has suspended the opening of the country's first Ikea store, in a last-minute decision reportedly linked to diplomatic tensions around the Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara.

Moroccan workers walk past the construction site of the country's first Ikea store near Casablanca, Morocco,Abdeljalil Bounhar / AP

The company, founded in Sweden, spent months building the sprawling store next to Casablanca and it was slated to open Tuesday.

But Morocco's Interior Ministry issued a statement Tuesday morning saying the store lacks the necessary "certificate of conformity."

A website known for close ties to the Moroccan royal palace, Le 360, reported that the decision was linked to Swedish support for the Western Saharan independence movement.

The report said the government held an "emergency meeting" Monday about Ikea's status in Morocco.

Ikea, which is now Netherlands-based, would not immediately comment on the suspended opening.