Call for self-determination of Western Sahara back on AU agenda

04 Apr 2015 11:10am
By Sawi Lutibezi
ADDIS ABABA, 04 APR (NAMPA) - Namibia's Ambassador to Ethiopia and Sudan, Anne Mutelo says the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) is still calling for the self-determination of the Sahrawi people.
In an interview with Nampa recently, Mutelo reaffirmed the Namibian Government's support to the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination and independence, and appealed to the international community to conclude the process of decolonising Western Sahara as soon as possible.
Western Sahara, which is also known as the last colony, was invaded by the Moroccan army in 1975.
“Namibia has been chairing the AUPSC for the month of March 2015. During our chairmanship the issue of Western Sahara was raised, and the organisation has been discussing this very important issue on the future of the people of Western Sahara,” Mutelo explained.
She noted that the matter has been on the agenda of the AU since its transformation from the Organisation of African Union (OAU) in 2001.
“However, since then it seems as if the plight of the Sahrawi people had been forgotten and has been handled by the United Nations instead,” said the ambassador.
The Peace and Security Council (PSC) is the African Union's (AU’s) standing decision-making body responsible for the maintenance of continental peace and security. It has 15 members, elected by the AU Executive Council on regional basis (three from Central Africa; three from East Africa; two from North Africa; three from Southern Africa; and four from West Africa).
“So, what we are saying is that we are reclaiming it back. Since Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma took over the chairmanship of the AU, the issue has now gained prominence on the AU agenda,” she said.
Mutelo noted that the colonisation of Western Sahara by Morroco, a fellow African country, is unacceptable and therefore urged for the issue to be attended to and resolved with urgency.
She further stressed that the AUPSC decided to adopt a communique which will be send to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for consideration in April 2015.
The UNSC takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to peace or act of aggression. It calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of adjustment or terms of settlement. In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.
The Western Sahara is a desert region lying between Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania.
Most Sahrawi civilians fled east into Algeria. Over the past 27 years, a huge complex of four major Sahrawi refugee camps have grown up around Tinduf in western Algeria near the border with Morocco.
These camps are home to more than 160 000 people, mainly women and children.
Most people under the age of 24 have never lived anywhere else but in the camps, which are located in one of the world’s harshest natural environments. The Sahrawi people are wholly dependent on food and aid supplied by humanitarian organizations.
Nothing grows in the Sahara and there are no possibilities of developing self-sufficiency.