- The UN Security Council has recently adopted its resolution 2414 (2018) whereby it extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for a period of six months.
- The Government of the Sahrawi Republic (SADR) has taken note of this development and in particular the short renewal period and the Security Council insistence on the resumption of negotiations between the two parties without any precondition and in good faith. This is a clear and strong message to Morocco, which has always subjected any engagement in the negotiations to preconditions, and has always put obstacles to the UN peace process in Western Sahara.
- The SADR Government remains hopeful that the Security Council this time will render its full support to the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General, former President of Germany Mr Horst Köhler, in his efforts to relaunch and move the negotiation process toward its ultimate objective, namely the achievement of a peaceful, just and lasting solution to the decolonisation question of Western Sahara in accordance with relevant UN and OAU/AU resolutions.
- It is worth noting that UN Security Council resolution 2414 (2018) was preceded by an unprecedented media and diplomatic campaign of misinformation carried out by Morocco, which went as far as threatening to take military action to forcibly annex the Liberated Territories of the Sahrawi Republic (SADR). It became clear however that Morocco’s escalation and misinformation campaign were not more than a smokescreen designed deliberately to divert the attention of the Security Council away from the real issues that underlie the current stalemate caused by Morocco itself. Furthermore, Morocco’s baseless allegations regarding UN-supervised ceasefire and the situation on the ground in Western Sahara were refuted on two occasions by the United Nations itself through the Spokesman of the UN Secretary-General.
- The escalation of Morocco’s aggressive actions and rhetoric also took place against the backdrop of the strongly expressed intention of the UN Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara to relaunch the negotiation process between the two parties as called for by the Security Council. The strong position expressed recently by the African Union as regards the urgent need for direct negotiations between the Sahrawi Republic (SADR) and Morocco has also dealt a major blow to Morocco’s attempts to neutralise Africa’s great contribution to peace efforts in its last colony. Morocco’s escalation is also due to the setbacks that it has suffered at the hands of the European Court of Justice that recently ruled against Morocco’s illegal plunder of the natural resources of Western Sahara as well as the South African Court, which confirmed the illegality of Morocco’s export and transfer of Sahrawi phosphates.
- Morocco recent escalation, in total, was only another episode of its blackmail policy and defiant behaviour, which unfortunately has not yet been met by the necessary and robust response from the Security Council. This includes, inter alia, its opposition to human rights monitoring within MINURSO mandate, expelling of the mission civilian component including the AU Observer Mission, trying to change the status quo in the Guerguerat area, imposing that MINURSO vehicles bear Moroccan number plates, affixing stamps on the passports of MINURSO staff members upon entry to and exit from Western Sahara, and repeatedly defying the authority of MINURSO in its mission area.
- Furthermore, Morocco continues to perpetrate massive violations of human rights of Sahrawi civilians in the occupied territories of the SADR, which have been documented by international and African human rights organisations. Morocco also persists in exploiting illegally and massively the natural resources of the Territory often in complicity with foreign entities and in violation of the permanent sovereignty of the Sahrawi people over their natural resources. In addition, Morocco remains the world’s largest producer and exporter of cannabis, where tons upon tons of Moroccan drugs are being smuggled everyday into the region and beyond. Drugs originating from Morocco have become a major source of funding for transnational terrorist groups operating in the Sahel-Sahara, thus representing a growing threat to regional peace and security.
- The 30th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 28-29 January 2018, adopted a decision in which it expressed its support for the relaunching of the negotiation process between the Sahrawi Republic (SADR) and Morocco with a view to reaching a durable solution consistent with the letter and spirit of the relevant OAU/AU decisions and UN resolutions. The Assembly also reiterated its call on the two Member States to engage, without preconditions, in direct and serious talks facilitated by the AU and the UN for the holding of a free and fair referendum for the people of Western Sahara. The Assembly further requested Morocco, as an AU Member State, to allow the AU Observer Mission to return to Western Sahara as well as to allow an independent monitoring of human rights in the Territory.
- As another demonstration of its defiance of AU decisions and its persistent attempts to deliberately neutralise the AU significant contribution to the peace process in Africa’s last colony, Morocco officially announced its opposition to any involvement by the AU in the peace process in Western Sahara and to the return of AU Observer Mission to the Territory. As confirmed by the UN Secretary-General in his latest report submitted to the Security Council on 29 March 2018, Morocco had officially informed the UN of its “categorical opposition to any involvement of the African Union in the political process” in Western Sahara. The UN Secretary-General also underscored in his report that Morocco did not allow the African Union Observer Mission to return to the Territory and resume its collaboration with MINURSO.
- In discharging its responsibility for peace and security in Africa consistent with the Constitutive Act and the UN Charter, the African Union cooperates very closely with the UN Security Council in all matters related to peace and security on the continent. However, for ulterior motives, Morocco persists in its attempts to undermine the AU-UN cooperation in the case of Western Sahara, while counting regrettably on the uncompromising support of a permanent member of the Security Council.
- Morocco’s admission as an AU Member State after signing and ratifying the AU Constitutive Act was received with the expectation that it would contribute to finding a speedy and lasting solution to the decolonisation conflict in Western Sahara. However, besides its declared opposition to any involvement by the AU in the peace process in Western Sahara, Morocco persists in its illegal military occupation of parts of the territory of the SADR. This represents a flagrant violation of the fundamental principles contained in the AU Constitutive Act including, inter alia, (b) respect for borders existing on achievement of independence, and (f) prohibition of the use of force or threat to use force against other AU Member States (Article 4). The African Union and its concerned policy organs should hold Morocco accountable for its enduring violation of AU Constitutive Act as well as its disregard for relevant AU resolutions on Western Sahara.
- Morocco has shown beyond any doubt that it is still unwilling to go along the peaceful and democratic path. It is therefore imperative that the African Union use its authority to urge Morocco to engage seriously and constructively in direct negotiations with the SADR in line with relevant AU and UN resolutions, and to desist from taking any action that may increase tension in the region and threaten its stability and security.
- Based on its strong and genuine commitment to a peaceful, just and lasting solution to the question of Western Sahara, the SADR reiterates its preparedness to engage in direct negotiations with Morocco as called for by the African Union and in accordance with relevant OAU/AU and UN resolutions with a view to bringing a speedy end to the decolonisation process of the last colony in Africa.