By Makwaia Wa Kuhenga
In the intervening period, there have been disgusting manoeuvres by the Kingdom of Morocco to appear as if it is a rightful member of the African Union (AU) while it is not – since AU member states had barred its membership of the all-African continental body as it transformed itself into a Union from its former status as an organisation – the Organisation of African Unity – (OAU) way back in 1984.
The Kingdom’s agents of disinformation had even given the impression that Morocco was represented and even addressed the 27th AU summit in Kigali, Rwanda mid last month prompting the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa to formerly disclaim in a press statement. Here goes the AU disclaimer available on the AU website: “The African Union seeks to clarify that the Kingdom of Morocco did not attend nor address the 27th Assembly of Heads of State that was held on 17-18 July 2016, in Kigali, Rwanda.”
According to informed diplomatic sources, Morocco’s manoeuvres are part of its overall strategy to seek membership of the AU as soon as possible with the agenda of ousting the state of Western Sahara from the continental body as its priority.
According to these sources, the Kingdom of Morocco’s intrigues against the POLISARIO Front’s state of Western Sahara is bound to fail because that state has long been admitted into the AU and enjoys majority support by all member-states of the AU.
Secondly, Morocco is in clear of violation of the charter of the AU which is principled on the need to respect former colonial inherited borders which flies into the face of the Kingdom which annexed Western Sahara as part of its Kingdom with the departure of Spain as an erstwhile colonial power.
According to the Saharawi ambassador in Dar es Salaam: “Morocco has always been contemptuous of the AU with its King describing AU meetings as “tamtam” conferences! At one stage the kingdom even refused to receive an AU envoy, former Mozambican President Chissano.”
“If Morocco wants to join the AU, it has to abide by its charter obliging member states to have no territorial ambitions of fellow member states. But Morocco has an agenda: to have the state of Western Sahara out of the AU.
This is absolutely unacceptable,” said the envoy. And by the way, when we reflect on liberation struggles against colonialism in Africa, we see that colonial powers have never been inside Africa, but have come outside the continent. In East Africa, an erstwhile colonial power was Britain as much as France was in West Africa.
But the thought that a country in Africa can ever be a colonial power over another African country appears strange if not farfetched. But it has happened with Morocco’s claims over the territory of Western Sahara as part of the Kingdom of Morocco.
The entire international community has roundly rejected this claim. The other day, this newspaper had a pleasant surprise for me when I read a news item on its page dedicated to news about Africa.
Rang the headline: US DOES NOT RECOGNIZE MOROCCO’S SOVEREIGNTY OVER WESTERN SAHARA. Re-read the item with me: “Washington: The United States of America does not recognise the so-called sovereignty of Morocco over Western Sahara, considered by the US as a “nonautonomous territory pending decolonisation.
The story went on: “The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission dispelled any doubt about the position of the US government on the Western Sahara issue at a hearing devoted to the status of Western Sahara.” According to one John Conyers:
“We must be clear: the US has not recognised the sovereignty of any state over the territory of Western Sahara considered as a non-autonomous territory pending decolonisation.”
Conyers, who also co-chairs the Sahrawi caucus at the US Congress called on the US government to support the Security Council’s proposal to provide the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) with a human rights monitoring mandate.
Another US official, Co-President of the Tom Lantos Commission, Mr James Mc Govern enjoined: “Western Sahara is last colony in Africa whose people has been awaiting the selfdetermination process since 25 years.”
He added: “Despite the USMorocco ties, respect for human rights takes first place over any other interest because this principal represents a key component of security in the region.”
If I have extensively quoted the stance of US congressmen over Western Sahara is simply to underpin my pleasant surprise that there are people in the United States whose conscience is uncompromised when it comes to the liberty of a people elsewhere in the world.
What is important here is that the rest of Africa and the international community such as the European Union have been unambiguous in their support for Western Sahara’s independence and sovereignty.
According to reports, the European Union (EU) has also been critical in its relationship with Morocco over the latter’s continued occupation of Western Sahara. But the African Union (AU) has gone even further.
It has granted Western Sahara full membership of the all-African body. Majority of African countries, including Tanzania have recognised the Sahrawi Republic as a sovereign state and the state of Western Sahara (SADR) has a full embassy in Dar es Salaam and a n
umber of other African countries. These steps are an unambiguous message to Morocco that its occupation of Western Sahara is wrong and a gross violation of the rights to independence of another people.
As I am writing, vivid memories of the Sahrawi people in their liberation struggle come to mind as I visited them in some part of their territory in the 1980s as a guest of the Polisario Front, the liberation movement engaging Morocco in its continued occupation of Western Sahara.
It is a rather long time since then, but what I am most gratified is that the Sahrawi people have won the support of not only Africa, but the rest of the international community on their indelible right to independence and self-determination.
So on hearing of Morocco’s manoeuvres to join the AU where it would work to sabotage Western Sahara’s membership of the AU, the facts above you have sampled on global support for the liberation of Western Sahara is just one factor that Morocco is headed on a futile task and is bound to fail miserably to join the AU and oust the Saharawi state.