Namibia has joined other African nations in calling for strict conditions to be dished out to Morocco before it is allowed back into the African Union family, chief among them a commitment to allow Western Sahara to rule itself.
After a 32-year hiatus, Morocco officially announced its intention to rejoin the African Union this year after leaving in a row over the status of Western Sahara. Morocco claims the disputed former Spanish colony is an integral part of its territory, but the African Union recognises it as an independent state. Neither Rabat nor the AU have changed their position.
The Namibian government reiterated that strict conditions should be set, and it came as no surprise this week when Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said, “Morocco should cease its occupation of Western Sahara”.
“Morocco wants to return to AU but they are still occupying Western Sahara. If they are to be allowed back into the AU fold there should be strict conditions attached to it,” she said on Monday when she met the diplomatic corps accredited to Namibia.
Namibia has not shied away from supporting the people from Western Sahara over the years, with Government at several international gatherings demanding the implementation of resolution 1514 on Western Sahara.
Namibia has often lamented the UN’s reluctance to commit itself and ensure the implementation of the resolution on Western Sahara.
The 1514 resolution issued by the United Nations General Assembly in 1960, provides for the granting of the right to self-determination for the colonised peoples and countries.
Western Sahara and Namibia, as well as the two movements “Swapo and Polisario Front” have friendship ties, and diplomatic relations since June 1990.
It seems Moroccan decision-makers have realised that the decision to leave the OAU was a miscalculation and a reaction to the organisation’s acceptance of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) membership.
Over the years, it has become apparent that the withdrawal was harmful to Morocco, but beneficial to the Polisario Front and Algeria. As Morocco was no longer a member of the African Union, its adversaries had unlimited power to establish alliances against Morocco and adopt resolutions and decisions that have served the Polisario and Algeria’s agenda.
This has become more apparent in recent years, as the African Union has started calling upon the United Nations to allow it to play a prominent role in the UN political process aimed at helping the parties to find a mutually acceptable solution to the Sahara dispute.
For example, last April, the AU Special Envoy for Western Sahara, Joaquim Chissano, attempted to present a briefing to the Security Council in an official meeting. In addition, in May the AU attempted to include the conflict in the agenda of its annual meeting with the UN Security Council.
Aware of the detrimental role the AU has been playing, Morocco realised that the time has come to return to the organisation and stand up to the Polisario and Algeria from within.
Morocco’s return call
In a message sent to an AU summit in the Rwandan capital of Kigali in July in which Morocco made known its intention to return, King Mohammed VI said it was time for Morocco to retake its place.
“For a long time our friends have been asking us to return to them so that Morocco can take up its natural place within its institutional family,” he said in a speech to African leaders as they began a two-day meeting. “The moment has now come.”
According to MAP, the official Moroccan news agency, the monarch said that although his country had left the organisation, “it never quit Africa”.
Nandi-Ndaitwah further called on the United States of America to lift all economic embargoes on Cuba.
This she said “will allow Cuba to develop”.
As the world prepares to commemorate Human Right’s Day tomorrow, Nandi-Ndaitwah stressed the need for countries to uphold human rights and seek dialogue during disputes instead of fighting.
“When we talk about human rights, it must be done in the true sense, not just when it fits us. We still have many people living in conflicts and their rights are constantly violated,” she lamented.
She reiterated the African call for the reform of the United Nations Security Council to allow for collective and inclusive decision-making.
“The fight to reform the UNSC has been long but we hope it will be brought to a conclusion that will be in the interest of the entire international community,” she said.