In Summary
  • Western Sahara, whose inhabitants want to call it officially as, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), has been claimed by Morocco since 1975, making it the last remaining colony on the continent.

  • And Kenya joined some two dozen countries in Pretoria to demand that Sahrawi gets its right to choose independence or be a part of Morocco.

Kenya is siding with African countries that are pushing for the final independence of Western Sahara from Morocco, even as Rabat rushes to lobby African Union (AU) members to support a United Nations (UN) solution favourable to it.

Nairobi was this week caught between Pretoria and Rabat's diplomatic lobbying machines as they both staged what looked like competing conferences on the status of Western Sahara.

Morocco said it was galvanising support for a UN-led solution "to immunise the AU against any inappropriate attempt to divert the path of unity and integration," according to a communique said to have been endorsed by some 36 other African countries including Somalia, Burundi and Rwanda.

But South Africa said it was launching an auxiliary process to complement the UN, by first demanding decolonisation of Western Sahara.

'LAST COLONY'

Western Sahara, whose inhabitants want to call it officially as, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), has been claimed by Morocco since 1975, making it the last remaining colony on the continent.

And Kenya joined some two dozen countries in Pretoria to demand that Sahrawi gets its right to choose independence or be a part of Morocco.

Mr Ababu Namwamba, the Foreign Affairs Cabinet Administrative Secretary, said Kenya believes in the principle of the inalienable right to self-determination as has been tradition since independence.

"Considering that the borders of African States, on the day of their independence, constituted a tangible reality, the OAU [Organisation of African Unity] Assembly solemnly declared that all member states had pledged themselves to respect the borders existing on their achievement of national independence," he said at the Pretoria meeting, referring to the predecessor organisation of the African Union.

"The wisdom then as it remains today is that it causes upheaval of seismic proportions to attempt to tinker with established boundaries. Kenya reiterates our support for and commitment to resolving boarder disputes."

MARRAKECH CONFERENCE

Initially colonised by the Spanish, Western Sahara was initially claimed by both Mauritania and Morocco but the former quit, leaving Rabat to call the region as Southern Provinces of its territory.

Morocco said on Thursday it invited Kenya to send a representative but said it was disappointed Nairobi sent no one, unlike Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Burundi and Somalia.

"The sponsors of SADC conference were upset because the Marrakech Conference turned out to be more popular than expected, with the participation of more than 37 African states, including seven members of SADC," Moroccan Ambassador to Kenya Mokhtar Ghambou told the Nation, accusing Algeria and South Africa of sabotaging the peace process.

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