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.
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.
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.
South Africa said it was launching an auxiliary process to complement
the UN, by first demanding decolonisation of Western Sahara.
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.
Kenya joined some two dozen countries in Pretoria to demand that
Sahrawi gets its right to choose independence or be a part of Morocco.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
"I am disappointed that Kenya did not
participate in Marrakech and chose instead to send a representative to
Pretoria, despite receiving an invitation from Morocco.
the Kenyan Foreign Affairs Cabinet Administrative Secretary (CAS) used
strange and false terms to describe the Sahara conflict. Morocco is
neither "a colonial" power nor is the Sahara in need of
1979, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution A/RES/34/37 which
granted “the inalienable right of the people of Western Sahara to
self-determination and independence, in accordance with the Charter of
the United Nations, the Charter of the Organisation of African Unity and
the objectives of General Assembly.
is this and several other UN resolutions that Kenya says was banking on
to attend the Pretoria meet labelled as the "solidarity" conference for
Western Sahara and organised by the Southern Africa bloc SADC.
we consider it a solemn duty to reaffirm solidarity with the Sahrawi
Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) and the right of her peoples to
self-determination and independence," Mr Namwamba later told the Nation
dispatch after the Pretoria meeting called on both Moroccan and
Polisario Front (that run the govt in the region) to engage in peaceful
negotiations in good faith, but still accused Morocco of not respecting
colonial borders and running affairs with impunity against the Sahrawi
It demanded UN Security
Council introduce a monitoring mechanism in Western Sahara to prevent
any further theft of local resources.
Southern African bloc also urged political parties in their member
states to lobby their respective parliaments to pass motions favourable
for Sahrawi question and asked the AU to make it a routine agenda at its
desire to seek independence had been debated at the UN before where the
General Assembly, in 1966, asserted the people's right to
In October 1975,
the International Court of Justice, in fact ruled that there was no
allegiance between the kingdom in Morocco and ethnic communities it had
used to lay in the territory.
But this was only an advisory opinion that had no legal force to be implemented.
Mr Ghambou, the Moroccan Ambassador to Kenya told the Nation his country was only going for a UN-led solution, which more than half of the continent supports.