The African Union’s Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) issued a communique that was published recently which has raised eyebrows in Rabat. It raises the issue of the AU’s neutrality in the Western Sahara dossier and the UN’s central role in assisting the parties to the conflict to reach a political solution in line with Security Council resolutions.
This communique raises many questions about the circumstances and conditions of its adoption, and whether Morocco was privy to its language, which is inconsistent with its interests and with the AU’s position since the adoption of Decision 693 at the Nouakchott summit in July 2018.
Recently, on March 9, the Peace and Security Council met and published a statement calling for an “immediate ceasefire. It also called for the African Union’s Troika and the AU special envoy for the Sahara to strengthen their support for the UN-led political process.
The statement called on the UN secretary-general to expedite the appointment of a UN personal envoy to Western Sahara, a position that has remained vacant since Horst Kohler resigned in May 2019.
Looking at the statement itself, it does not contain any anti-Moroccan language at all, instead, it stressed that the AU’s role is to support UN-led political efforts to find a mutually acceptable and agreed-upon solution to end the conflict.
However, the communique published last Thursday contains worrying language, reminiscent of the (AU) Peace and Security Council’s position when Morocco was not part of the AU. It raises many questions around the issue of Morocco’s influence within the organization.
In the statement’s preamble for example, issues of human rights and the alleged exploitation of the Sahara’s natural wealth, were raised. This clearly demonstrates that the Peace and Security Council seeks to shift back towards the Polisario Front as it was before Morocco’s return to the African Union.
There is also an attempt to revive the AU’s now defunct role in the UN-led political process through the Special Envoy for Western Sahara, former Mozambican Joaquim Chissano. This development will bring to the fore once again the plight of Western Sahara.
It also brings to light the ongoing war in Guerguerat between Morocco and the Polisario Front. This shows that the Peace and Security Council is adopting the narrative that many countries in Africa, Algeria and the Polisario Front group continue to promote.
However, Morocco continues to deny the narrative that it is at war with the Polisario Front.
There is an emphasis on the need to reach a solution to the conflict in line with the contents of the African Union’s founding document instead of relying on Security Council decisions alone, which have become the sole reference for a political resolution to the conflict and are considered biased by some African countries due to USA influence.
The communique also calls on the African Union’s Troika to revive the consultations between Morocco and the Polisario Front. The communique says that it also decided, if necessary, to undertake its “role” in the conflict by examining it at the level of heads of states and governments.
The document also asks the African Union Commission to take the necessary measures to reopen the organization’s office in Laayoune so the AU can revive its role in helping the parties reach a solution to the conflict. The statement further calls on the Commission to conduct a field visit as soon as possible to follow up on the situation on the ground.
The document invites the UN secretary-general to appoint a new UN envoy in the near future, to work closely with the African Union to reach a final resolution to the conflict. More dangerously, it calls on the UNSG to request the UN’s legal counsel regarding the legality of opening consulates in the Sahara.
Algerian FM Sabri Boukadoum, during the 21st extraordinary session of the Executive Council of the AU on December 2, claimed that the Troika mechanism had failed to fulfill its mission and called for the restoration of the Peace and Security Council’s role in the conflict. Algeria also made this claim/attempt during the summit held the previous December but to no avail.
However, given the new dynamic evident at the AU, it is very unlikely that AU Commissioner Moussa Faki would consider the content of the above-mentioned statement, or that it would have any impact on the organization’s position on the conflict.
We know that these proxies of France who are subservient to their colonial master present at the AU, will spare no effort in frustrating this noble effort towards realizing total independence for Western Sahara. We commend the efforts which have been spearheaded by Algeria the main supporter of the Polisario Front-Aluta Continua (the struggle continues).
Dr Mustafa Mheta
Researcher/Head of Africa Desk
Media Review Network
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