Ethiopia: Saharawi agrees conditional peace negotiation with Morocco

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - Saharawi Republic, which has been protesting the illegal occupation of its territory, has declared readiness to negotiate an end to its conflict with Morocco on condition that the African Union Summit underway here pushes Rabat to unconditionally leave the territory it occupies.

Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) Foreign Minister Mohamed Salem said on Friday that while Morocco’s application to rejoin the Africa Union was “special,” it must be done on condition that Morocco unconditionally leaves Western Sahara.

“The Saharawi Republic is ready to negotiate with Morocco for an end to the conflict,” Salem told reporters at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa ahead of the continental body's 28th regular Heads of State Summit.

“The AU cannot accept a country that still colonises another. We are confident such a decision to admit Morocco while it occupies the territory of Western Sahara is against the AU policies, including its Agenda 2063. Western Sahara is still the last case of decolonization on the AU agenda. Morocco is the last occupying force and this application by Morocco to join the AU should be treated as such.”

Morocco formally applied to join the AU in September 2016 as required under the AU’s founding principle, the Constitutive Act.

The Moroccan parliament ratified the AU Constitutive Act 10 days ago, paving the way for the country’s admission to the continental organisation it quit in protest over the recognition of SADR.

The SADR minister said while membership of the AU would be the first step in a long diplomatic process, it should not be taken unless Morocco quits Western Sahara.

The AU has expressed concern over the fate of refugees born and raised in camps in the Western Sahara region, which is under occupation.

Salem said while Morocco’s application to join the AU was based on Rabat’s continuing international isolation, the application should only be considered legally and politically before a decision is taken.

Salem said a legal opinion has been sought from the AU on the contradictions that the admission of Morocco would serve, including the AU principle on the inviolability of borders.

“Morocco militarily invaded Western Sahara in 1975 and is therefore violating the OAU/AU principle of prohibition of the use of force or threat to use force among member states of the Union,” Salem argued.

The minister said the application by Morocco should not be treated the same as that of South Sudan because Morocco violated the freedom of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination.

“The application for AU membership is a unique case and it deserves a different treatment. While applying for this membership, Morocco should ensure that it respects its own borders,” Salem insisted.

Morocco’s bid to join the AU was raised in Kigali, Rwanda, where African leaders last met to discuss pressing international and regional peace and security issues.

Meanwhile, SADR said there was no proof to claims by Morocco of its introduction of a motion supported by 28 AU members to expel SADR from the AU.

Salem said several African countries had no specific problems with the admission of Morocco but such a decision must only be taken if it conforms to the AU rules and regulations regarding membership.

-0- PANA AO/AR 27Jan2017

27 january 2017 17:17:59

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