Lesotho’s foreign minister, Lesego Makgothi, said that any previous statements of support for the self-proclaimed SADR are null and void.
Rabat – Lesotho’s Foreign Minister, Lesego Makgothi, has announced that his country maintains a “neutral” position on the Western Sahara conflict.
Following a meeting in Rabat with his Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita on December 10, the minister emphasized that Lesotho has officially withdrawn any previous statements of support for the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
Makgothi reiterated that Lesotho fully backs the UN-led political process in Western Sahara. The minister added that the country backs Morocco’s efforts to find an agreed upon and mutually acceptable political solution to the conflict.
He added that Lesotho’s previous statements on the conflict are “void and have no value.” The country is committed to retaining its position of neutrality at all regional, continental, and international meetings and forums.
Makgothi’s statement to the press on Tuesday came a few months after the African country issued a communique on October 4, 2019 suspending all decisions relating to the self-declared SADR.
Makoghi echoed his country’s position during Tuesday’s press briefing. “I am here today to confirm and clarify my country’s position,” he announced.
The official explained that he wanted to remove any perceptions of ambiguity about Lesotho’s official line on the conflict.
“The Kingdom of Lesotho expresses its sincere wish that its neutral position on the Sahara issue will give a strong signal to all parties that the kingdom of Lesotho stands alongside the International Community in their efforts to achieve a realistic, practicable and enduring political solution to this regional conflict,” the Lesothan foreign minister underlined on Tuesday.
Bourita commented on Lesotho’s decision, expressing his satisfaction with the relations between the two countries.
Makgothi’s visit to Rabat “opens a new page in our bilateral relations,” Bourita underlined.
During their meeting in Rabat, the two foreign ministers sat down to discuss south-south cooperation and the potential strengthening of bilateral ties between Lesotho and Morocco, as part of Morocco’s Africa-facing diplomatic gaze.
This is an “important” or even “historic” visit for bilateral relations between Rabat and Maseru, said Bourita, welcoming this first visit by a foreign minister of Lesotho. The visit, Bourita believes, provides the necessary clarifications in relation to Lesotho’s position on the question of the Moroccan Sahara.
Lesotho’s decision comes as “more than half of SADC is adopting a constructive position on the question of the Moroccan Sahara,” according to Bourita.
Both Malawi in 2017 and Lesotho in 2019, as well as several other SADC countries, have been clear in their support for Morocco’s willingness to fully engage in the UN-led political process in Western Sahara.
The decision will come as another disappointment to the self-proclaimed SADR, who lost several supporters this year, including El Salvador and Barbados.