Implications of the reapplication for readmission to the African Union by Morocco, while it illegally occupies the Western Sahara
FOR ORAL REPLY
QUESTION NO: 249 (NO2883E)
PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO: 13-2016 OF 16 NOVEMBER 2016
MR MSA MASANGO TO ASK THE MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION:
(1) Because of Morocco’s illegal occupation of Western Sahara it has not been a member of the Organisation for African Unity for decades nor the current African Union, however, recently Morocco has reapplied to the African Union for readmission, what are the implications of this development for Western Sahara?
The Kingdom of Morocco voluntarily withdrew from the Organization of African Unity (OAU) after its decision to admit the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as a Member State. It was never a Member of the African Union (AU) and its current request is, therefore, not for readmission, and neither is it a reapplication.
The AU succeeded the OAU and the Constitutive Act of the AU was adopted in 2000. The Constitutive Act established the AU and through its provisions, sets out how it will work, including regulating engagement between Member States.
Any African state may at any time request the Chairperson of the African Union Commission to be admitted without reservation to the Union. The relevant procedures in terms of the Constitutive Act and Rules of Procedure of the Assembly then become applicable.
South Africa affirms the right of the peoples of Western Sahara to self-determination and continues to call on the African Union and the United Nations to work towards the resolution of this dispute.
In 1991, the United Nations Security Council established the UN mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINUSRO) in accordance with settlement proposals accepted by both Morocco and the POLISARIO. The primary mandate of MINSURO is to conduct a referendum in order for the people of Western Sahara to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination. The referendum has not yet taken place.
In March this year, following the UN Secretary-General’s use of the term “occupation” to describe the status of the territory in Western Sahara, Morocco expelled civilian staff members of MINUSRO. This hampered the ability of the UN mission to carry out its mandate as mandated by the United Nations Security Council.
Following the expulsion of the civil members of MINUSRO, the AU’s Peace and Security Council noted with deep concern the lack of progress in the resolution of this dispute and reiterated its commitment to continue to work towards the resolution of the dispute in Western Sahara on the basis of international law.
Furthermore, the Chair of the African Union Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma appointed the former President of Mozambique, Mr Joachim Chissano as her Special Envoy on Western Sahara. Mr Chissano has had an opportunity to meet with members of the Security Council where he criticised on the Morocco’s decision to expel the civilian members of MINUSRO and requested a date be set for the long outstanding referendum.
The Security Council has also voted to extend the mandate of MINUSRO for a year and emphasised the “urgent need” for the mission to return to its full functionality. In July, the Security Council was informed that the gradual return of MINUSRO’s civilian staff had begun.