ASUU: Towards Liberating Western Sahara Republic
The Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) is the last Colony in Africa forcibly being controlled, raped and exploited by Morocco, another African country. Morocco has refused to allow the independence of the Western Sahara people since 1975 when it took it over shortly after Spain left the territory. In doing this, Morocco has refused to honour declarations of International organisations such United Nations and African Union to the effect of conducting a referendum and determining the fate of the people.
Western Sahara, a mainly desert territory in Northwest Africa is the subject of a decades-long dispute between Morocco and the Polisario Front. The territory is phosphate-rich and believed to have offshore oil deposits, and most of it has been under Moroccan control since 1975. Morocco presently occupies 80percent of the territory containing ‘juicy’ resources while leaving 20percent desert portion for the owners who have been exiled.
“Towards the Liberation of Africa’s Last Colony” was the theme of an International Conference organised by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in Abuja. It attracted scholars, civil rights groups, and activists from over twenty countries within and outside Africa. All deliberations focussed on issues relating to the decolonisation of Western Sahara including, the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and the role of the United Nations among others.
ASUU was worried by the re-colonisation of the African continent via the unilateral annexation, occupation and exploitation of natural resources to the benefit of Morocco, France, Spain, the European Union and other clearly identified world powers to the detriment of the fundamental right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence. The conference reaffirmed that Western Sahara remains a question of decolonisation to be completed on the basis of the exercise by the people of Western Sahara of their inalienable right to self-determination and independence through a free and fair referendum. African countries cannot allow this aberration continue and must declare a strong support for the liberation struggle being waged by the Saharawi people under the leadership of their sole and legitimate representative, the POLISARIO Front.
Already playing leading role in supporting the people of Western Sahara is the Algerian Government, who declared unwavering and multifaceted support. Other African governments who have recognised the Western Sahara people as an independent country must support the deletion of colonialism on any African soil. This is because what Morocco has been doing to the people of Western Sahara constitutes what can be best described as crime against humanity.
The African Union must be commended for appointing a Special Envoy for Western Sahara and supporting its proactive efforts aimed at accelerating the decolonisation of Western Sahara. AU and its relevant political bodies must therefore intensify their work in multilateral and bilateral forums to push the process forward. The United Nations should also provide the United Nations Mission in Western Sahara, MINURSO, with a human rights mandate with a view to monitoring, protecting and reporting on the human rights situation in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.
Beyond Africa, Spain has a major role to play as it remains the Administering Power of Western Sahara and, as such, it is still accountable to the UN and to the people of Western Sahara for fulfilling its responsibilities concerning the decolonisation of the Territory in accordance with UN relevant resolutions. Countries like France must be condemned for the shameful role played at the Security Council in supporting Morocco’s expansionism in Western Sahara and in opposing all initiatives aimed at resolving the conflict on the basis of international legality.
The United Nations on its part should hold, without further delay, the referendum for self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in accordance with the relevant UN and OAU resolutions further reaffirmed by the African Union (AU). All African States and NGOs must provide political support and humanitarian aid to the SADR to address the needs of the Saharawi people in the fields of health, food and capacity-building.
As Africans we must rise together against the stance of Morocco. All African States should use their bilateral relations with third parties and act individually and collectively exert all forms of pressure on Morocco, including economic sanctions, to compel it to end its illegal occupation of Western Sahara. We must work decidedly for the issuance of legal warnings to those identified nations profiting from the plundering of Saharawi resources and boycott of products, including end of chain products, originating from the Saharawi occupied territories as well as the listing of international enterprises engaged in Saharawi resource theft.
There must be immediate and unconditional release of all Saharawi political prisoners. All illegal activities of exploration and exploitation of the natural resources of the people of Western Sahara and call on all entities involved to cease immediately their operations in the Saharawi occupied territories. There cannot be peaceful resolution of the western Saharawi conflict outside giving the people of SADR the right to freely make a choice on their future. There is the need to intensify pressure for the holding of the long overdue referendum which should be free and fair. The People of Western Sahara Republic Must Be FREE.
Dr Oludayo Tade
A sociologist wrote from Ibadan via [email protected]