Ramaphosa stands by the Saharawi in their fight for independence from Morocco

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the SADC Solidarity Conference, which sees Southern African countries show support for the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, who are fighting for Western Sahara to gain independence from Morocco. Picture: (@PresidencyZA)

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the SADC Solidarity Conference, which sees Southern African countries show support for the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, who are fighting for Western Sahara to gain independence from Morocco. Picture: (@PresidencyZA)

The president also expressed the importance of the international community showing solidarity with the people of Western Sahara. 

The SADC Solidarity Conference, which is currently underway, with countries from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) offering a show of support for the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in Western Sahara, which has struggled since to gain independence from Morocco since 1976.

The SADR considers Western Sahara occupied by Morocco.

The official Twitter account for the South African government shared some of Ramaphosa’s address. “To the people of Saharawi. We stand by you. We support you. And we will never forget you,” Ramaphosa said.

“As lovers of peace and freedom – as men and women of conscience – let us step up our international solidarity efforts, in both word and deed, with the people of Western Sahara, with Polisario and with the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.”

The president began the conference with a welcome address, beginning by saying it was fitting for proceedings to be held at a venue named after OR Tambo, an ANC leader who, according to Ramaphosa, believed in the self-determination of the Western Sahari.

“Gathered here today are men and women of conscience. You stood by South Africa during the struggle for our own liberation and today you affirm your solidarity with the Saharawi people in their quest for self-determination,” Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa noted that it had “been three decades since the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 621 of 1998 first calling for a referendum on self-determination for the people of Western Sahara”.

He also said “the presence of African liberation movements sends a message that the continent supports the self-determination of Western Sahara” and that Africa was “behind” those struggling for Western Sahara to gain independence.

The president also expressed the importance of international solidarity.

“It was international solidarity that brought down the barbaric system of apartheid, and it is international solidarity that will see realised the foremost aspiration of the people of Western Sahara: to be independent and free.”

 

 

The SADR was established by the Polisario Front, a Saharawi liberation organisation founded in 1976, which is engaged in an ongoing struggle for Western Saharan independence from Morocco, which has occupied the area since the seventies.

A statement from the ANC in March 2018 reaffirmed the party’s support for the Western Saharan liberation struggle.

“It is the only remaining colony in Africa,” it read, stating the ANC “condemns the withdrawal by Morocco from the UN-led peace process and supports UN efforts to bring both parties back to the negotiating table”.

One of the resolutions at the 54th ANC national conference reaffirmed the party’s commitment to “recall the historical fraternal relations between the ANC and the Polisario Front as allies”.

(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)

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