Let us not forget Western Sahara

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Sadly the cause of self-determination and national independence for the people of Western Sahara is often forgotten.
So forgotten that this week when Morocco refused Swedish-founded furniture giant Ikea permission to open a new store in the country, because of what is widely believed its support for the independence of Western Sahara, the story did not feature on any major news outlet.

It is no secret that the Swedes support the self-determination of Western Sahara. It should be mentioned that Morocco said the refusal of permission for Ikea to open a store was purely because the store lacked the correct permit, hence the government had to convene an urgent cabinet meeting that decided not to give the green light to Ikea.

It was heart-warming to see the President of our republic, Dr Hage Geingob, stand before the 70th session of the United Nations and reiterate that human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy and self-determination are not divisible hence the need for the world – through the United Nations – to allow the people of Western Sahara and Palestine to enjoy their inalienable right to self-determination and national independence.

So often the world overlooks this northern Africa country, which has been under Moroccan control since 1975, a colonial yoke that simply replaced Spanish colonial rule.

Namibia should know the importance of such a decisive statement at the UN because our republic is a child birthed by various nations and countries as midwives who, with the UN as the midwife, incessantly demanded Namibia’s self-determination and national independence.

Namibia was once a country under colonial rule, a sovereign country under the authority of its apartheid neighbour, and its journey to independence started with a petition to the UN.

Indeed it would have been a travesty for Namibia to forget the plight of Western Sahara, to stand before the world and not call for the urgent implementation of the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly resolutions on holding a free and fair referendum in Western Sahara.

It would have been really thoughtless of Namibia to address the world without asking the United Nations to assume its responsibility and implement all its resolutions and decisions on Palestine with no pre-conditions.

As reiterated by President Geingob, as Namibians we are both grateful and proud of the support we received from the international community, through the United Nations system, during our struggle for independence. We can simply not be grateful if we are to forget those who are still under occupation, or to ignore them now that we are free.

Fittingly so that there stood the President of Namibia who 51 years ago arrived at the very same building as a petitioner against apartheid South Africa’s illegal occupation of the then South West Africa. The very person, who 25 years ago again arrived at the very same building for Namibia’s admission to the UN as a young democracy, thanks to the UN.

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