The senior official highlighted Morocco’s Autonomy Plan as the only framework that meets the UN Security Council’s parameters for a realistic and compromise-based political solution in Western Sahara.
Rabat – Senior Zambian political officer Grace Njapau Efrati, former Deputy Minister of the Interior and a member of Parliament (MP), reiterated the exclusivity of the UN-led political process and the promise of Morocco’s Autonomy Plan to settle the Western Sahara issue in a statement released on Africa Day.
Njapau, who also serves as the national coordinator of the Morocco-Zambia Friendship Group, spoke as part of the citizen-run program “Sahara Debate,” a democratic and open platform to shed light on the Western Sahara question, on May 25.
Njapau began her remarks by welcoming Morocco’s contributions to African development under King Mohammed VI’s pan-African vision.
She then stressed that a definitive solution to the Western Sahara question must fall within the framework of the UN political process in order to strengthen African integration. She invited African states to put aside Cold War-era ideologies and resolutely support the UN-led political process in line with the official position of the African Union.
She underlined that on July 2, 2018, the AU, during its 693rd meeting, affirmed that a solution in Western Sahara is only possible through the UN-led political process. The AU appealed to the concerned parties in the Western Sahara conflict—Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, and the Polisario Front—to resume negotiations under the auspices of the UN Security Council.
Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, and the Polisario Front then met at a round table in Geneva, Switzerland in December 2018 and March 2019. At the end of the second meeting, the parties agreed to meet again in the same format.
Njapau highlighted Morocco’s Autonomy Plan as the only framework that meets the UN Security Council’s parameters set forth in Resolution 2494 for a realistic, pragmatic, lasting, and compromise-based political solution in Western Sahara. She also called on all parties to move towards a political solution based on the Autonomy Plan.
The continental challenge of COVID-19
For the Zambian official, the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to rethink the place of the pan-African ideals in today’s world. She illuminated King Mohammed V as a founding father of pan-Africanism during the 1961 Casablanca Conference, from which the Organization of African Unity (OAU) emerged.
Njapau also recalled Morocco’s leading role in the decolonization of African states, particularly through its direct support for national liberation movements throughout the continent.
Sixty years later, the country’s attachment to the continent is still as “intense,” she said, reflecting on King Mohammed VI’s speech at the 28th AU Summit that marked the return of Morocco to the union.
Morocco’s return to the AU, she continued, is a natural extension of the continuous deepening of relations between Morocco and African countries under the King’s pan-African vision. Between 1999 and 2017, Morocco signed more than 1,000 cooperation agreements with various African countries in the fields of training, health, and sustainable development.
Morocco returned to the AU with solid experience in the key areas of migration management, sustainable development, the fight against violent extremism, and climate change, she continued, celebrating the country’s willingness to share its experience with other African countries.
King Mohammed VI’s position as Leader of the African Union on Migration, the designation of Morocco to host the African Observatory on Migration, and the election of Morocco to the Organization’s Peace and Security Council are examples of Morocco’s driving role in continental development, she added.
In the context of a pandemic that requires African resilience and strength, she continued, King Mohammed VI launched an initiative aimed at supporting African countries in their different phases of managing the health crisis. Njapau called the King’s initiative “pragmatic and action-oriented” and said it will allow African countries to exchange experiences and best practices.
Morocco, Zambia, and the self-styled SADR
The Zambian official went on to say that contrary to the “false allegations” Algeria and Polisario have propagated, Morocco’s return to the AU does not translate into recognition of the self-styled Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
Njapau said the recognition of a state is an eminently sovereign, unilateral act. The participation of a legitimate state such as Morocco in an international or regional organization, in the presence of an unrecognized entity such as the SADR, does not indicate any recognition of the latter, she stressed.
One-hundred-sixty-five United Nations member states do not recognize SADR, and since 2000, 44 countries that had recognized the entity have withdrawn their recognition. Today, only a handful of countries still recognize the SADR, she added.
Zambia rescinded its recognition of the SADR and cut all ties with the entity on July 9, 2016, during the visit of former Zambian Foreign Minister Harry Kalaba to Rabat.
After Morocco’s return to the African Union in 2017, King Mohammed VI made his first official visit to Zambia. The King signed 19 new partnership agreements with Zambian leader Edgar Chagwa, solidifying the positive diplomatic ties between the two countries.
After the King’s visit, Kalaba reiterated in February 2017 that his country “supports the efforts of the United Nations to help the parties find a long-lasting solution to the conflict over Western Sahara.”
“Morocco’s return to the African Union affords the African family an opportunity to push for this question, which has lasted for a long time, towards a peaceful solution in a spirit of African consensus, dialogue, and mutual respect,” the former foreign minister added.
In March 2018, Zambia’s current Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joseph Malanji, said that “Lusaka no longer maintains bilateral relations with SADR” and assured that Zambian diplomatic missions “will inform countries and the international and regional organizations of this decisive break” with the Polisario Front.
Morocco and Zambia enjoy friendly diplomatic relations, with Zambia a strong African ally in Morocco’s aim to consolidate its territorial integrity.