Namibia was one of the nine countries that voted against the proposal to welcome Morocco back into the AU family after a 33-year absence.
Morocco colonised the Sahrawi Republic in 1975 and was expelled from the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the AU predecessor, for violating the bloc’s founding values and principles.
However, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Algeria were against the readmission citing Rabat’s continued occupation of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
Special Advisor to the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Tuliameni Kalomoh, who also attended the recently-ended AU Summit in Ethiopia, said allowing Morocco back is a “regrettable decision”. “Self-determination is a human right and the people of Western Sahara should be allowed that. It is also primarily the reason why we [Namibia] kept supporting them throughout the years and we will continue doing so,” he said.
Now that Morocco is under the AU umbrella, Namibia will push the AU to aid the process of calling for a referendum in Western Sahara.
“We spoke strongly against their [Morocco] return and we will not stop,” he asserted. The African Union says its decision to approve Morocco’s request to rejoin the organisation is aimed at resolving the conflict with Western Sahara from within.
After hours of closed-door debates on Monday night, on whether to allow the Moroccan kingdom as a member, 39 out of the 54 AU states approved the return of the north African country. President Hage Geingob, while being interviewed on national television this week, sounded dejected and disappointed by the outcome which led to Morocco’s return.
“It was difficult and we were disappointed because the votes were there but the issue about democracy is that there must be fairness, was there fairness, I do not think so,” said Geingob. He added: “I was sitting next to a delegate from Western Sahara and I asked him if they [people of Western Sahara] will be fine and he said yes we should not worry.”
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki urged the AU to flex its muscles to call for a referendum. “The referendum must be a conditionality for the return of Morocco as opposed to them setting their own conditions,” he said.
Mugabe blasts African leaders
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has lashed out at African leaders, saying they lack principles and are easily swayed after they voted to readmit Morocco to the African Union. President Mugabe told journalists on arrival in Harare on Tuesday that most African leaders had no ideological grounding. “I think its lack of ideology,” the 92-year-old ruler, who turns 93 later this month, said as he expressed his disappointment of the summit outcome. “They (African leaders) have not had the same revolutionary experience as some of us and there is too much reliance on their erstwhile colonisers.
“We will still fight and see whether in fact Morocco is abandoning its occupation of parts of Sahrawi,” he added. President Mugabe insinuated that African countries that supported Morocco’s readmission were swayed by donor money. “Morocco has been working for quite a long time, building mosques here, giving money at times. The game is not lost,” he said. “We will fight the issue to the end.
“But that is quite a blow to some of us; we believe in rules, in the principles and we have wanted to see Morocco declare at least, that yes, we have given up the claim of occupation,” he went on.
President Mugabe also blamed Botswana President Ian Khama for the failure of its Foreign minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi to win the post of AU Commission chair which was taken by Chadian Moussa Faki Mahamat. Dr Venson-Moitoi was the Southern African Development Community candidate. The Zimbabwean leader said President Khama did not lobby enough for his minister. “We worked behind the scenes and the poor lady tried her best,” President Mugabe said.
“But the other countries were arguing that ah, you are a daughter whose father never appears at the AU and sometimes takes contrary positions (to those of the bloc). So she had no chance,” Mugabe said.
President Khama rarely attends AU meetings citing concerns that they are often unproductive and he has also, on several occasions, broken ranks with the bloc over its reluctance to condemn leaders that manipulate elections in their own countries.
-Additional reporting by Daily nation