“Sahara Debate” has hosted a score of public figures of several nationalities, who expressed support for Morocco’s position in Western Sahara and satisfaction with Morocco’s policy in favor of the local population in the southern regions.
Rabat – Former Malagasy Minister of Agriculture Ramanoelina Panja has joined a growing list of public figures that have publicly recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara in a virtual debate program.
Panja was the newest guest of “Sahara Debate,” an online talk show seeking to shed a spotlight on the Western Sahara regional conflict.
During the 18th episode of the show, Panja spoke in an eight minute video about the UN-led political process to resolve the Western Sahara conflict and Morocco’s diplomatic advancements throughout the years.
Panja, who is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), sought to raise awareness of the support the UN process has earned from the African Union.
He said the support is evident through the opening of diplomatic representations of several African countries in Laayoune and Dakhla.
Panja referenced Morocco’s peaceful approach to resolve the conflict since its onset, after the withdrawal of Spanish colonization from the region in 1975.
“The kingdom of Morocco has been determined to peacefully settle this dispute,” Panja said, recalling the Moroccan Autonomy Plan of 2007.
The Malagasy academic referenced Morocco’s proposal to grant the region significant autonomy within the framework of the sovereignty of Morocco. The proposal aims to reach a final solution to the decades-long dispute.
African Union support for the UN-led political process
During his online lecture, Panja spoke about the failed mediation intervention of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). This led to the initiation of the UN-led political process, which has garnered support from many African countries.
Panja then recalled the African Union’s July 2017 Decision 653 on Western Sahara.
The decision stipulates that the efforts of the African organization support those of the UN. It urges the pan-African organization and its bodies to ensure “appropriate support to the efforts of the UN Secretary-General” to reach an agreed upon and a mutually acceptable solution to end the conflict.
The decision nullified all of Polisario and Algeria’s attempts to involve the African Union, namely through a referendum, and the official hostility of some African countries in the conflict.
However, Algeria continues to express hostile vows to challenge Morocco’s territorial integrity and sovereignty over Western Sahara.
Morocco’s North African neighbor finances, supports, and hosts the Polisario Front and its militias in the Tindouf camps, where thousands of Sahrawis live under alleged dire conditions.
The Malagasy university professor said Decision 653 “reaffirms the exclusivity of the UN” to review the conflict and mediate between its parties to find a political solution.
In addition to the first AU decision, Panja also recalled the “important 693 decision” that the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government adopted in 2018, expressing the commitment of the AU to the UN-led political process.
Growing support for Morocco’s position
In addition to the decisions adopted by the pan-African bodies, the Malagasy political figure recalled the Marrakech Ministerial Conference of March 2019. The conference marked the participation of 37 African countries from the five sub-regions of the continent and centered on AU support for the UN-led process regarding Western Sahara.
Less than a year later, in February 2020, AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki reiterated the African support for the UN-led political process.
Through recalling the AU and UN developments regarding the conflict, Panja sought to highlight the “growing evolution of support in Africa and in the world” in favor of Morocco’s position.
The former official said that more than 30 AU member states support Morocco’s territorial integrity and sovereignty over Western Sahara.
In addition to Panja, several other public figures from across the world have spoken on “Sahara Debate” about the nuances of the conflict, as well as the diplomatic wins Morocco has achieved at the international level with regards to the Western Sahara question.
On June 25, the show featured Firmin C. Kinzounza, one of the 10 experts in charge of the AU’s Recruitment and Selection System, speaking of Morocco’s development projects in Western Sahara.
The expert expressed satisfaction with Morocco’s development approach in favor of the region’s population in accordance with international law.
“It is this approach that the Kingdom of Morocco follows in its policy of valuing the natural resources of the Moroccan Sahara,” said the Congolese academic.