President Cyril Ramaphosa has reaffirmed South Africa’s support for the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, commonly referred to as Western Sahara, which has endured a long territorial dispute between Morocco and its indigenous Sahrawi people.
“Morocco’s illegal occupation of Western Sahara remains a matter of concern to both Africa and the international community,” the President told media on Tuesday.
This year marks the 46th anniversary of the illegal occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco.
President Ramaphosa believes that the international community should be pressured so that the long-delayed referendum on the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara is held.
According to France24, Morocco controls 80% of the vast desert region, rich in phosphates and with a long Atlantic coast abutting rich fishing waters.
“Until the people of Western Sahara are able to exercise their right to self-determination, the decolonisation of Africa will be incomplete,” said President Ramaphosa.
President Ramaphosa was hosting his Western Sahara counterpart, President Brahim Ghali, at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
The State Visit was aimed at strengthening the already existing good political relations fortified by the strong historical ties dating back from the years of the struggle against colonialism and apartheid.
“As a country whose freedom was attained with the assistance of international support and solidarity, South Africa stands with the Sahrawi people in their struggle against illegal occupation.”
He told media that the country will continue to maintain strong bilateral relations with the Western Sahara, which South Africa formally recognised on 15 September 2004.
“South Africa has continued to reiterate its principled position in support of the peace efforts of the African Union and the United Nations on the protracted Western Sahara conflict.”
He also recalled that on 26 March 2019, South Africa hosted the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Solidarity Conference with Western Sahara.
“The conference reflected on the Southern African countries’ support by friends in the international community, [for] a just, acceptable and lasting solution to the situation.”
The State Visit, according to the President, should send a strong signal that South Africa will continue to strive for the self-determination of the Sahrawi people and that the country’s position remains unchanged and resolute.
The President said the visit has helped strengthen and consolidate the fraternal relations between the two countries.
“It has provided an opportunity to exchange views on recent developments related to the question of Western Sahara.”
He said the country will continue to mobilise regional, continental and international support towards a sustainable resolution to the Western Sahara conflict, in line with the provisions of the 1991 Ceasefire Agreement.
“We reiterate the need to return to direct dialogue between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front without preconditions,” he stressed, adding that South Africa will continue to advocate for the active participation of African countries in the resolution of the issue of Western Sahara.
“We call on the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and the Kingdom of Morocco – as the Member States of the African Union – to prepare conditions for a new ceasefire and a just and durable solution to the conflict.”
Africa, according to the President, must remain true to the Constitutive Act of the African Union (UN).
“As the international community, we must affirm the principles of the United Nations Charter, uphold international law and implement the resolutions of the UN Security Council.”
He thanked the President for the fruitful discussions and assured him of the continued support for the struggle of the people of Western Sahara.