Tribute by Minister Dr Naledi Pandor on the occasion of the Memorial Service in honour of the late Ambassador Radhi-Sghaiar Bachir of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic to South Africa, DIRCO Conference Centre, 2 December 2019

Programme Director
The Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and Ambassador of the DRC: H.E. Mp’oko
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Staff of the Embassy of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
Distinguished guests
Colleagues
Ladies and Gentlemen

At the very onset, allow me to take this opportunity to thank you all for honouring our invitation to honour our colleague, brother, friend, and most of all comrade - His Excellency Ambassador Radhi-Sgaiar Bachir of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic to South Africa who passed on 27 November 2019, after a short illness.

On behalf of President Cyril Ramaphosa, our Government and our I wish to express our heartfelt condolences to Ambassador Bachir‘s family, friends, the Government of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and the Sahrawi people.

Ambassador Bashir showed great passion and tireless determination in championing the Saharawi cause for freedom and self-determination and was well known for his intellect and sharp analytical abilities as well as his deep sentimental knowledge and dedication to the Saharawi cause through presenting them at different international fora.

He consistently fought for the rights of his people, for the right to self-determination, in all fora where he represented both Frente Polisario and the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.

In all the engagements he had with our Government he conveyed messages emphasising the Saharawi’s inalienable right to self-determination and the restoration of the Saharawi’s territorial integrity.

It is sad that Ambassador Bashir lived a difficult live because of the pain of separation from his Family, his friends but most of all from his beloved homeland. As a result of his illness he travelled back to a place called home, the camps in Tindouf.

As we gather here today, to pay our last respects, we are reminded of this injustice. In this 21st Century, whilst many countries have gained their independence from the oppressive shackles of colonialism, we still have an entire nation living in camps in Tindouf Algiers, unable to reap the full benefits of their territorial rights. This is an indictment on all of us.  We must stand firm in our commitment and solidarity with the Saharawi Arab Democratic republic, and assert the need to act on standing UN resolutions especially a Referendum on Western Sahara.

Our position is clear, a position supported by the International Court of Justice that the occupation of the Western Sahara by Morocco is illegal. The United Nations agreed that the Saharawi people must be allowed to exercise their right to self-determination. We continue to support Saharawi and hereby reiterate the position of the African Union (AU) on the determination of a date for the holding of a referendum on self-determination, as the Western Sahara remains the last territory in Africa under colonial rule, inscribed in the United Nations and Decolonisation list of “Non-Self Governing territories.” This status-quo cannot be allowed to continue. We need action in memory of our dear colleague. We call on the United Nations Secretary General to expedite the appointment of a Special Envoy for Western Sahara and the pursuit of concrete outcomes that will result in Freedom.

In closing, I wish to, once again convey our deepest condolences to the family, friends, comrades and compatriots of H.E Radhi Bachir, the Government of the Saharawi Arab Democratic and the People of Western Sahara - may you all find solace and strength during this difficult time and may you be comforted by the knowledge that we share your loss.

May his soul rest in eternal peace.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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