President Cyril Ramaphosa says African leaders have a moral obligation to force the Moroccan government to grant the Saharawi Republic in the Western Sahara its independence.
Ramaphosa briefed the media after holding private talks with the visiting Saharawi counterpart Brahim Ghali, at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Tuesday.
Ghali is on a working visit to South Africa to lobby diplomatic support against Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara.
Ramaphosa says South Africa stand side by side with the Saharawi people in their quest to free themselves from occupation by Morocco.
Saharawi people live in the desert, they were forcefully removed from their land and to make matters worse, the AU failed to implement a UN resolution to end occupation of Western Sahara.
Discussing this long standing conflict the two leaders agreed that much is needed to end the suffering of the Saharawi people.
President Ramaphosa says, “The suffering that the people of Saharawi are going through now at the refugee camps will be sufficient evidence that this colonisation must come to an end. Because it’s an affront to us as people of Africa that we should in this day and age have one country within the African continent that does not have self-determination and not independent.”
President Ghali called South Africa their second home, and thanked President Ramaphosa and his government for supporting Western Sahara.
“The independence of the Saharawi people depends on the experience of South Africa. This is why our visit is strengthening the pillar of hope and friendship.”
Ghalli lambasted the failure of Morocco to decolonise their country and the violation of the Africa Union Constitutive Act, a law that disallows colonizing another country.
“We are expecting that the issue will be discussed and Morocco will be asked to respect its commitment and the AU call for Morocco to stop occupation of our country. It’s time for the African Union to impose the implementation of its decisions and its time for colonialism to end in Western Sahara.”
Ghali says the Kingdom of Morocco has to abide with the AU’s Constitutive Act.
The recent voting at the AU clearly showed the division between Anglo Saxon and Francophone states with most voting in favour of Morocco, including Nigeria. South Africa and Botswana abstained.
“For us South Africa we have known that our independence will not be sufficient until Saharawi Arab Democratic,” says Ramaphosa.
The leaders also called on the reform of multi-lateral institutions such as the U.N.Security Council and condemned terrorism and extremism. With the next AU meeting taking place in Mauritania there’s renewed hope that the plight of the people of Western Sahara will be dealt with.