According to the Nigerian journalist, the African Union is legally bound to support the UN-led process in Western Sahara.
Rabat – The African Union (AU) must respect and stand by the UN process in Western Sahara, southern Morocco, said Nigerian journalist Moussa Askar.
The editor-in-chief of the Francophone weekly newspaper L’evenement Niger, made the statements during his participation in the “Sahara Debate” online show on Thursday, July 23.
“The AU’s role supplements and does not replace the UN process [in Western Sahara],” Askar said.
Askar, who heads the Norbert Zongo Cell for Investigative Journalists in West Africa, said the AU’s role is clear. “The AU must support the UN,” he stressed.
Aksar recalled the historical context of the regional dispute, stating that Morocco recovered its territory in 1975 following the withdrawal of the Spanish colonial power. However, according to him, Algeria has, since then, fiercely opposed Morocco’s territorial integrity.
“Algeria has been engaging in a deliberate policy of systematically attempting to hamper the legitimate rights of Morocco,” Aksar said.
The journalist then highlighted Morocco’s choice of favoring a peaceful path to solving the Western Sahara conflict.
Morocco first called for African mediation through the Organization of African Unity (OAU) — the former name of the AU.
The mediation process within the OAU began in 1975 and did not succeed in solving the conflict. This led Morocco to leave the organization in 1984, Aksar recalled.
After the OAU’s failure to successfully mediate between the conflict’s parties, Morocco transferred the file to the UN. The UN process in Western Sahara began in 1985, the journalist continued.
AU is legally bound to support UN
After presenting the historical context, Aksar referred to the AU’s Decision 653. The decision, adopted during the 29th AU Summit in July 2017, came following Morocco’s return to the AU.
After welcoming Morocco’s return to “its African family,” the ruling urged the chairpersons of the AU and the AU Commission to “ensure appropriate support” for the UN process in Western Sahara.
The decision “requests the chairpersons of the [AU] and the AU Commission … to take appropriate measures to support the efforts of the [UN].”
According to the journalist, the decision commits the AU to support the UN in their efforts to reach a “consensual, final” solution to the conflict.
Aksar then recalled the AU’s Decision 693, adopted in July 2018. The ruling emphasized “the need for renewed efforts to overcome the current impasse in the negotiation process and to find a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable political solution.”
The decision also established a “troika” mechanism, composed of the current, the previous, and the next presidents of the AU. The mechanism aims to ensure a follow-up of the Western Sahara conflict while it is examined by the UN.
According to Aksar, the new mechanism represents a form of support to the UN process in Western Sahara.
The AU Troika Committee must, by legal obligation, support the UN’s efforts, the journalist added.
At the end of his speech, Aksar recalled the African Ministerial Conference on AU support to the UN political process on the regional dispute over Western Sahara. The conference took place in Marrakech on March 25, 2019, with the participation of 37 African states.
During the meeting, all participants reaffirmed the exclusivity and centrality of the UN process in Western Sahara, Aksar concluded.