African Seminar Deems Morocco's Autonomy Plan as 'Only Viable Solution for the Sahara Issue

African Seminar Deems Morocco's Autonomy Plan as 'Only Viable Solution for the Sahara Issue

Seminar in Tanzania on SaharaThe Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) and the Tanzania Peace Foundation (TPF) based in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania, jointly organized, on Saturday, 16 October 2021, a seminar on the topic: “The Imperative of Post-Covid Recovery: How Can the Resolution of the Sahara Issue Spur African Stability and Integration?”.

In the final communique of the seminar the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) and the Tanzania Peace Foundation (TPF)  stated the following:

Gathering more than 100 participants, among which 25 speakers – Members of Parliament, former Ministers of Foreign Affairs and ambassadors, business leaders, experts and academics as well as civil society and think tank representatives - from Tanzania as well as the East-African Community and Southern African Development Community countries: Comoros, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, and Uganda, this highly anticipated event, which was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dar-Es-Salaam.

Organized around four transverse panels, the discussions consisted in examining the Sahara issue in the light of the African Union’s challenges and focused on the presence of a non-state entity among its sovereign and independent members, which many qualified as a “burdensome historical error”, a “legal aberration” and a “political inconsistency”. Following a brief historical and legal overview of the issue, which demonstrated, by way of history and international law, the sovereignty of Morocco over its Sahara, the participants unanimously called for a revigorated Pan-Africanism that draws its strength from unity, peace, and stability; and hence economic integration, growth, and development. Citing the legacy of the Casablanca Charter and that of African Forefathers, such as the eminent Julius Nyerere and Jomo Kenyatta, the participants insisted on the necessity to put a stop to all forms of separatism (political secessionism, religious extremism, identity disintegration) to achieve absolute pan-African priorities such as the implementation of the African Common Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the 2063 Agenda goals. As highlighted by the participants, “there is no room for secessionism in African societies today”.

The Tanzanian and sub-regional speakers also congratulated Morocco for its continental leadership and the major diplomatic triumph that it has achieved in the last 18 months, through the opening of 20 diplomatic representations by African brother countries in Laayoune and Dakhla, in the Moroccan Sahara, expressing in its essence strong support and effective implementation of a pragmatic, realistic and compromise-based approach. They also commended Morocco’s unwavering commitment to a dynamic of openness, progress, and modernity for the overall win-win development and South-South cooperation for the country, the region, and Africa, illustrating its strong belief in the continent’s potential. Furthermore, the unilateral severance of diplomatic ties with Morocco by Algeria, in response to His Majesty King Mohammed VI’s extended hand, was regretted and described as a major setback in the political process aiming at finding a just, sincere and credible solution based on dialogue and compromise.

After examining the particular context within which a separatist entity, with no attributes of a viable, sovereign, and independent state, was admitted in the Organization of African Unity, in 1982 - at a time when the continent was in the grip of different ideological currents, that are obsolete today – the participants discussed the solutions available to the African Union to restore its neutrality and impartiality on the Sahara issue. Among those solutions, the suspension of the pseudo “SADR” from the African Union was considered as a given, in light of the signature, on 16 July 2016, by 28 African countries of the Kigali motion, recognizing the extraordinary circumstances of the pseudo “SADR”’s admission, demanding the reintegration of Morocco in its institutional family and correlating it to the suspension of what was described by some participants as a “phantom state”.

Furthermore, the expulsion of the only non-state entity sitting among 54 sovereign and independent States, will, according to the debates, not only ensure the pan-African organization’s premunition from separatism but also enable the African Union’s effective, credible and legitimate contribution to the United Nations Process, which recognizes the Moroccan Autonomy Plan, described by the participants as the “only viable solution to the dispute”, as “serious and credible” for a “just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution”, in accordance with the latest United Nations Security Council resolutions. Such a solution requires strong political will from the parties, as well as from the international community; a political will clearly be demonstrated by Morocco - in blatant contrast with Algeria’s overt animosity and enmity towards the Kingdom.

As such, in light of the adoption, in July 2018, during the Nouakchott Summit of Decision 693 (XXXI) of the African Union Commission regarding the Sahara issue, the majority of participants called for the expulsion of the pseudo “SADR” from the African Union, in full convergence with this paramount decision, sanctifying the exclusivity of the United Nations Security Council Process and, thus, denoting the African Union’s inability to favor a viable and lasting solution as long as it does not recover credibility and impartiality on the Sahara issue.