South Africa’s African National Congress welcomes state visit by Saharawi President Brahim Ghali

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ALGIERS- The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the African National Congress (ANC) has welcomed the recent state visit to South Africa by the Saharawi President of the Republic, Secretary General of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali.

In a statement, NEC reaffirmed the ANC’s support for the right of the Sahrawi People to self-determination, while rejecting the position by the Kingdom of Morocco that an autonomous Western Sahara under Moroccan sovereignty is the only acceptable solution. This position stands in opposition to the will of the Saharawi People, and resolutions of the United Nations, UN Security Council and the African Union (AU).

The NEC welcomed the high-level deliberations between President Ghali and President Ramaphosa. It commended the principled and steadfast leadership provided by President Ramaphosa in committing to elevate South Africa’s bilateral relationship with the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic to a Strategic Partnership. The Alliance called for this to be translated into a deepening of bi-lateral economic and trade relations with the Sahrawi Republic.

The ANC, together with its Alliance partners has resolved to strengthen its solidarity with the Polisario Front and the Sahrawi People, by engaging in intensified united action on the domestic and international fronts for their national liberation and self-determination.

Western Sahara President Ghali wraps up state visit to South Africa: Emphasis on firm positions, convergence of views:

The state visit that led the President of the Republic, Secretary-General of the Polsario Front, Mr. Brahim Ghali, to the Republic of South Africa, at the invitation of his counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa, was an important milestone during which the unwavering position of South Africa in support for the just Sahrawi cause has been reaffirmed, while stressing the convergence of views on issues of common interest.

The Saharawi President was accompanied by an important delegation that included Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, Minister of Cooperation, Fatima Mehdi, Minister of Social Affairs and Promotion of Women, Sweilma Berouk, National Director of Security, Documentation and Protection of Institutions, Sidi Okal, Advisor to the Presidency of the Republic, Abdati Breika, Central Director of Operations and Inspection at the Ministry of National Defence, Abba Sheikh Mohamed, Ambassador to South Africa, Mohamed Yeslem Beiset.

The visit aimed 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.

The visit was an occasion to renew thanks and gratitude to the government and people of South Africa, headed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, for these solid principled positions, affirm the determination of the Sahrawi Republic to strengthen relations of brotherhood, friendship and cooperation, for the benefit of the two countries and peoples, and for the service of the countries and peoples of the African continent, and consecrate the position of Africa and its continental organization, the African Union, in the international arena, added the statement.

For three days, President Brahim Ghali had an intensive program. On the first day of the visit, the Saharawi President held private talks with his South African counterpart, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa. The talks took place at the Presidential Palace in Pretoria, after President Brahim Ghali received a warm and official welcome from the South African President at the entrance to the Presidential Complex.

The talks were extended to the delegations of the two countries, during which they discussed areas of strategic cooperation between the two countries and ways to enhance and advance them.

On the second day of the visit, the President of the Republic had bilateral meetings, the first of which was with the ruling coalition in South Africa, where the meeting was an opportunity to strengthen the strategic bilateral relations rooted in history, in addition to a meeting with the South African Solidarity Movement with the Sahrawi people.

During the meeting, which took place at his presidential residence, the Saharawi President renewed greetings to the South African Solidarity Movement for its efforts at the level of South Africa in particular and Africa in general.

He also thanked the Solidarity Movement for accompanying the Sahrawi people in their legitimate struggle for freedom and independence, calling on them to work to mobilize more support and solidarity with the Sahrawi people in other countries of the African continent.

Ghali briefed the members of the South African Solidarity Movement on the latest developments in the Sahrawi cause, at all levels, noting that the Sahrawi people are going through an exceptional stage as a result of Moroccan intransigence and their violation of the ceasefire agreement signed in 1991, on November 13, 2020, which led to the resumption of the war between the Sahrawi army and Moroccan occupation forces.

The President of the Republic reiterated to the South African Solidarity Movement that the Sahrawi people will continue their legitimate struggle despite the difficulties and the alliances of colonial powers.

On the third day, President Brahim Ghali visited the detention center of the late Nelson Mandela on Robben Island, where he witnessed the sad history of this island.

President Ghali toured the prison and received explanations about the torture that the late Nelson Mandela suffered during the apartheid regime.

Nelson Mandela, the leader of the African National Congress and who later became the first president of the new democratic South Africa, is the most famous prisoner on Robben Island, where he spent 27 years of his life in this prison in a small cell, which he described in his autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom.”

For the people of South Africa, Robben Island, said the Minister of Sports, Culture and Arts, “is a symbol of victory of human will and spirit over injustice and racial discrimination, not only in South Africa, but in the whole world”.

President Brahim Ghali was also received at the headquarters of the South African Parliament, where the South African legislative institution emphasized accompaniment of the Sahrawi cause.

In this vein, the Chairperson of The Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation Mr. Supra Mahumapelo, renewed the Parliament’s accompaniment to the Sahrawi people until independence.

In his intervention during the working session held at the parliament headquarters with President Brahim Ghali and his accompanying delegation, Supra Mahumapelo renewed his legislative body’s accompaniment to the Sahrawi people and their just cause, noting that this stems from the positions of the State of South Africa and its support for the Sahrawi people to confront colonialism.

The Chairperson of The Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation added, “Your cause is our cause and your victory is ours. One day, the Sahrawi people will triumph over the illegal occupation.”

He also pointed out that the African National Congress, in all its seminars, takes decisions and recommendations in favor of the Saharawi cause, adding, “We believe that your insistence on self-determination and independence will be crowned with success.”

Mr. Supra Mahumapelo clarified that it is important to form a parliamentary committee for solidarity and defense of the Sahrawi people in international forums, stressing “We will not allow the Sahrawi people to be subjected to persecution and we will force the African Union and the United Nations to take practical steps to end the suffering.”

The Chairperson of The Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation concluded by saying, “The Sahrawi people have been denied their right, and you only have to continue to escalate the struggle,” calling on Spain to assume its historical responsibilities towards the Sahrawi issue.

At the end of the visit, President Ibrahim Ghali held a meeting with South African political and intellectual figures that focused on mechanisms to gain more support for the Saharawi cause.

During the visit, President Brahim Ghali expressed appreciation for the role played by South Africa in the continent and the world in support of liberation issues, highlighting that the talks with President Ramaphosa touched on “joint action” at the international level and ways to develop bilateral diplomatic cooperation and in various fields to the “highest levels”, while stressing the need to find a solution to the just Sahrawi cause as soon as possible.

Saharawi-South African joint statement stresses the strategic partnership between the two friendly countries:

A joint statement was issued during the state visit that leads the Saharawi President of the Republic, the Secretary-General of the Polisario Front, Mr. Brahim Ghali, to the Republic of South Africa, stressing the strategic partnership between the two countries in various fields.

The joint statement indicated that, at the invitation of President Cyril Ramaphosa, the President of the Sahrawi Republic and Secretary General of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, led a three-day state visit to South Africa, during which he met with President Ramaphosa and discussed issues of common interest.

“During their official talks, the two heads of state reviewed many issues of common concern at the bilateral, continental and international levels. The two presidents also expressed their satisfaction with the level of cooperation, friendship and solidarity achieved during the two countries’ joint struggle against apartheid, colonialism and foreign occupation” mentioned the statement.

The joint statement also highlighted that “the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Government of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, as Member States of the African Union and in recognition of the inalienable rights of the Sahrawi people to self-determination and freedom, and with reference to the Memorandum of Understanding between the two Governments on Diplomatic Consultations signed on June 21, 2013, affirm their commitment to consolidating and strengthening the bonds of friendship and mutual trust and shared values ​​of freedom, democracy, justice and solidarity”.

“The two heads of state encouraged the expansion of technical missions and institutional capacity building projects to include the fields of higher education, training, science and technology, arts and culture, youth and women capacity development, and diplomatic training, emphasizing in particular the importance of empowering youth and women” added the joint statement.

The two heads of state also encouraged officials in the two ministries of foreign affairs to coordinate efforts in these areas in order to achieve the desired goals and facilitate their implementation.

The joint statement stressed the need for the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and the Kingdom of Morocco, as member states of the African Union, to resume dialogue to overcome the current political impasse. This would create the conditions for a just and lasting solution to the conflict in line with the relevant decisions and resolutions of the African Union and the United Nations and the objectives and principles of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, as well as the decisions of the 14th Special Session of the African Union Conference on Silencing the Guns in Africa.

The two presidents emphasized the joint responsibility of the African Union and the United Nations as sponsors of the 1991 UN settlement plan, which paved the way for a peaceful solution after 16 years of war between the two parties.

The two Heads of State expressed their hope that Mr. Staffan de Mistura, Personal Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for Western Sahara, would prioritize the resumption of the political process to support the two parties, namely the Kingdom of Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, through negotiations for a free and fair referendum to determine the fate of the people of Western Sahara.

The joint statement called on the United Nations Security Council to ensure that the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) carries out its primary mission, which was established in order to facilitate the holding of a referendum in Western Sahara and enable its people to have their right to self-determination. It also added that MINURSO should be given a mandate to monitor, protect and report on human rights and the protection of natural resources from illegal looting.

The two Presidents concluded the consultations by affirming their determination to further develop bilateral relations and deepen coordination of external action at the regional and international levels.

The President of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic expressed his government and people’s sincere appreciation to the government and people of the Republic of South Africa for their unwavering support for the just cause of the Sahrawi people, as well as South Africa’s valuable interventions to support the struggle of the Sahrawis in international forums, especially the Southern African Development Community, the African Union and the United Nations.

President Brahim Ghali expressed his gratitude to President Ramaphosa for the invitation to visit South Africa and for the generous hospitality they received.

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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