Now Govt denies withdrawing recognition of Western Sahara, claims will remain neutral

Filed under: Latest News,Politics |

The confusion surrounding Zambia’s recognition of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic
(Western Sahara) has continued, with government now denying reports it has withdrawn the recognition, following the visit of King Mohammed VI of Morocco last week.

Western Sahara is a disputed territory claimed by Morocco and indigenous Saharawis who are seeking self-determination.

A former Spanish colony, it was annexed by Morocco in 1975. Since then it has been the subject of a long-running territorial dispute between Morocco and its indigenous Saharawi people, led by the Polisario Front.

Over the last 12 months, the PF government led by President Edgar Lungu has been flip-flopping regarding the recognition of Western Sahara as a sovereign state.

On February 19, 2016, President Lungu announced that the country will recognize Western Sahara and accused Morocco of colonizing another African country.

“I wish to assure you of our relentless collective calls for the independence of the people of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic,” Lungu told Salam El-Mami, Western Sahara’s ambassador to Zambia.

Government then flip-flopped in July 2016, with Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba announcing in Rabat, Morocco that Zambia had withdrawn its recognition of Western Sahara.

But in January 2017, President Lungu invited the President of the Sahrawi Republic Brahim Ghali to Zambia and during their meeting, he told Ghali that “We are truly behind Sahrawi for the emancipation of the country and its people,” as reported by the Zambia Daily Mail, a government newspaper.

On Febraruary 25, 2017, a few days following the Moroccan King’s visit, Harry Kalaba was quoted by the Moroccan media as having reiterated the country’s decision to withdraw its recognition of Western Sahara.

“I reiterate my statement made on July 9, 2016 in Rabat,” Kalaba told Morocco’s official news agency Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).

Kalaba added that his country believes that “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 announcement was made less than a month after Morocco’s return to the African Union and few days following King Mohammed VI’s first official visit to Zambia.

During the visit, King Mohammed VI and President Lungu,chaired the signing of 19 partnership agreements between the Morocco and Zambia.

But on Sunday February 26, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement denying reports that the Moroccan monarch’s visit resulted in Zambia’s withdrawal of its recognition of Western Sahara, further stating that the country will positively contribute to efforts aimed at resolving the dispute “through a position of neutrality.”

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to confirm that, contrary to recent Media reports, the Visit of the King of Morocco has not resulted in Zambia’s withdrawal of recognition of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic,” reads the statement.

“The Ministry would like to emphasise that Zambia supports the efforts of the United Nations to achieve a final solution to the regional dispute on Western Sahara. In this regard, and as is our renowned tradition, Zambia is willing to effectively contribute, constructively, to these efforts, through a position of neutrality by engaging the relevant parties and maintaining active dialogue.

“Further, Zambia views the return of Morocco to the African Union as an opportunity for the continental family to bring this longstanding matter to an amicable resolution in the African spirit of consesus, dialogue and mutual respect.”


3 Responses to Now Govt denies withdrawing recognition of Western Sahara, claims will remain neutral

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.