Saharawi President Brahim Ghali on official visit to South Africa

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ALGIERS- The Saharawi President of the Republic, Secretary-General of the Polisario Front, Mr. Brahim Ghali, will start, next Tuesday, October 18th, 2022, an official visit to the Republic of South Africa, at the invitation of his South African counterpart, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa.

The visit aims to consolidate the already existing good political relations fortified by the strong historical ties dating back from the years of the struggle against colonialism and apartheid, indicated a statement of the Presidency of the Republic.

During the visit, South Africa’s President Ramaphosa will grant an official reception to President Ghali, during which both presidents will exchange views on recent developments related to the question of Western Sahara, including the mobilization of regional, continental and international support toward finding a sustainable resolution to the Western Sahara conflict in line with the provisions of the 1991 Ceasefire Agreement.

Earlier, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa stressed at the 6th congress of the ruling party at the African National Congress, that his party and his country could not be assured as long as Western Sahara and Palestine remained under occupation.

“We cannot be assured while Western Sahara remains under occupation. We cannot accept that occupation and oppression is to be the fate of the Palestinian people” he said to the participants to the conference held from the 28 to 31 July in Johannesburg.

Last June, South Africa considered that Morocco’s proposed autonomy plan for Western Sahara “is unilateral and illegal, stressing that any recognition of Moroccan occupation is a violation of international law.”

In a statement delivered by Ambassador Xolisa Mabhongo, Deputy Permanent Representative of South Africa to the UN during the United Nations substantive Session of the Special Committee on Decolonization (C-24) 76th Session of the UN General Assembly, the South African official considered that “Morocco’s autonomy plan is a unilateral plan without any recognition in international law”, adding that “any recognition of Western Sahara as part of Morocco is tantamount to recognizing illegal occupation and it has been established that such recognition is a contravention of international law.”

The South African representative further called on the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation to send a visiting Mission to Western Sahara to assess the situation on the ground and to assume its responsibility in the protection of the rights of Saharawi people.

South Africa, he added, “reaffirms her support for the inalienable right of the people of Western Sahara and their right to self-determination and independence in accordance with the principles set forth in the United Nations Charter and the objectives of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and other relevant resolutions and the ICJ Advisory legal opinion as well as related AU Decisions.”

South Africa remains steadfast in its support for the Saharawi people and continues to provide humanitarian and material support to alleviate the harsh living conditions that they have continued to suffer. It maintains a principled position on the right to self-determination for the Saharawi people as enshrined in the United Nations (UN) Charter and the African Union (AU) Constitutive Act. It also intensified its solidarity with the Polisario Front liberation movement, as they lead the people of Western Sahara in their quest for peace and independence.

Back in September 2004, South Africa recognised the SADR when it became clear that Morocco had ruled out any possibility for a referendum for Western Sahara in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 1495 of 2003.

Diplomatic ties between both countries have been cemented with the SADR having a residential embassy in Pretoria, whilst South Africa’s Ambassador to Algeria is accredited to the SADR. Political and development assistance are rendered to the SADR through the African Renaissance Fund (ARF). In addition, areas of cooperation between both countries exist in the field of diplomatic consultations, arts and culture, youth sports development, as well as humanitarian relief and landmine removal.

The prolonged suffering of the people of Western Sahara and the lack of progress in finding a durable solution to the struggle for self-determination in the territory on the basis of international legality remains a major concern for the South African Government.

More recently, the Permanent Representative of South Africa to the UN, Mathu Joyini, affirmed that the inalienable right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination and independence is not negotiable.

“We are concerned that in our own continent, Africa, the Saharawi people still cannot exercise their right to self-determination, which is guaranteed under the Charter of the United Nations. South Africa stands by the African Union’s consistent position that the inalienable right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination and independence is not negotiable,” she said in her statement, Tuesday, before the UN 4th Committee on Decolonisation.

In this vein, she recalled that “the International Court of Justice has given credence to this position when it stated, in its advisory opinion on 16 October 1975, that there were no links of territorial sovereignty between Morocco and the Western Sahara prior to the Spanish colonization of the Territory.”

On another note, she recalled the Committee that the Moroccan violation of the ceasefire, last Novmber 13th 2020, “resulted in the resumption of hostilities between the two sides, a major setback towards a negotiated settlement, which is of grave concern to us.”

She urged the parties to “abide by the terms of the ceasefire agreements and avoid any acts that could lead to a further rise in tensions and hostilities in the territory,” and further welcomed “the efforts of the Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Mr. Staffan de Mistura, to resuscitate the political dialogue amongst the parties, paving the way towards a just, lasting and mutually acceptable negotiated political solution.”

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