WINDHOEK – Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic President Brahim Ghali yesterday relayed his disappointment to President Hage Geingob over the United Nations (UN) and international community’s inability to solve the last colonial issue in Africa.
He poured out his discontent during a visit to Geingob at State House yesterday.
Ghali said in dealing with the Western Sahara conflict, both the political organs of the UN and its secretariat have been leaning towards Morocco’s interests instead of complying with their obligations under the UN Charter and the requirements of international legality.
The Sahrawi independence movement and Morocco have been fighting over Western Sahara since 1975, when the former colonial powers withdrew from the region without organising a referendum for the Sahrawi people, leaving the issue unresolved to this day.
“We are disappointed in the United Nations because they adopted certain plans in September 1991. They were planning for a referendum but up to now we are still waiting for this promise to be implemented.
We hope the new UN secretary general [António Guterres] and his personal special envoy will continue to bring efforts to finish this last case of decolonisation in Africa as entrusted by the UN General Assembly,” Ghali remarked.
An UN-supervised referendum on independence of Western Sahara was promised in 1992 but it was aborted by Morocco. A UN peacekeeping mission that was to organise the referendum has remained in the territory ever since, while Morocco built a 2,700km-long sand wall, with landmines.
“It’s unacceptable that Saharawi people among all nations of the world are deprived of exercising their rights of self-determination and deprived of enjoying their natural resources in their country,” the disputed territory’s leader said.
“The Sahrawi people don’t accept to be an exception. This is the last colony in Africa and Africa has resolved to get rid off colonialism on the continent. We hope all Africa countries adapt one [phenomenon] on colonialism,” he said.
He however applauded the African Union (AU) for supporting their fight for self-determination, adding that there are efforts by the continental body to push towards the resolution of the conflict.
He is hopeful these efforts will continue until they get their independence.
Ghali noted that the AU over the years issued important recommendations regarding the Sahrawi issue, including the last AU summit held in January in Addis Ababa where summit decisions called for direct negotiations between Western Sahara and Morocco.
The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, or Western Sahara, is part of the AU but not part of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and Morocco refuses to recognise it as a sovereign country.
Morocco rejoined the AU in January after leaving in protest in 1984 over the AU’s declarations on Western Sahara.
At the 28th summit meeting of the African Union (AU) held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 30 January 2017, Morocco’s readmission to the continental body generated heated discussion. At the end of the day the Kingdom of Morocco managed to win over sufficient member states on its side and it could join the fold unconditionally.
Morocco left the Organization of African Unity (OAU), precursor to the AU, in 1984 after the OAU recognised the right to self-determination and independence for the people of the Western Sahara and admitted the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic that was proclaimed in 1976 by the Sahrawi people’s Polisario Front.
It was in keeping with the OAU principle not to recognise the occupation of any part of the continent that it admitted the SADR to its membership. While Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic claimed sovereignty over the territory, Morocco saw it as an integral part of its own territory. Thus, rather than accept Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic’s independence, Morocco left the OAU.
Since then Morocco has refused to join the AU unless the organisation withdrew the membership of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.