Namibia stands by Polisario, wants AU constitution enforced

Even though Namibia did not manage to stop the admission of the Kingdom of Morocco to the African Union, the country says it remains confident that fellow African countries would hold Morocco accountable to the constitution of the African Union.

Namibia bases its hopes on the promise made at the acceptance of Morocco into the AU that Morocco come into the AU unconditionally and then be subjected to respect the constituting act of the AU, which requires its members to uphold and respect sovereignty and self-determination.

Namibia's hopes have not been dashed by the pronouncement by Morocco's deputy foreign minister, Nasser Bourita, immediately after the admission to the AU, that Morocco would never recognise the Polisario, the group fighting for the independence of Western Sahara.

Morocco had quit the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1984 in protest of the admission of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) declared by the Polisario Front at the height of a war for the territory.

"Not only does Morocco not recognise - and will never recognise - this so-called entity," Bourita told website Le Desk in an interview on Sunday. "It will [also] redouble its efforts so that the small minority of countries, particularly African, which recognise it, change their positions."

AU membership would not change Morocco's stance that the Western Sahara is an integral part of its territory, said Bourita.

Namibian Deputy Prime Minister and International Relations Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah in a meeting with editors last week in Windhoek admitted that the situation is tricky, especially that 39 countries have accepted the return of Morocco to the African body. However, Namibia hopes there would be a discussion in the AU assembly on whether Morocco's continued refusal to recognise Western Sahara is not a violation of the AU Constitutive Act.

"That is the only guarantee I can give now, but our position on Western Sahara is very clear and we made it very clear during the meeting," said Nandi-Ndaitwah.

Thus, she says Morocco being part of the AU "does not change in anyway Namibia's position on the right to self-determination as enshrined in the Constitutive Act of the AU".

"Namibia expects the Kingdom of Morocco, as a member of the AU, to fully comply with the principles, values and obligations enshrined in the Constitutive Act of the AU and relevant United Nations resolutions calling for the unconditional holding of a free and fair referendum, to allow the Saharawi people to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination," said Nandi-Ndaitwah.

She also revealed that negotiations on the UN Security Council continue, and for Namibia it is important to ensure that the issue of the reform of the UN Security Council is not reduced to an issue of the aspirant candidate countries presenting their candidatures for election to any UN body.

"The Security Council is too important an organ to be left to the regular political interests of particular countries."

"It is against this background that Namibia reaffirmed its commitment to the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration on the modalities for the identification of Africa's representation in the Council to be solely left in the purview of the African Union," she said.

On the issue of the International Criminal Court, Nandi-Ndaitwah said Namibia "is still a member and as such has not withdrawn ratification of the Rome Statute."

At the recent AU Summit, the AU member states adopted an ICC Withdrawal Strategy as Africa's position on the ICC.

Namibia's position has always been that countries have the right to withdraw from the ICC, provided there are strong judicial institutions and systems at the national level in all AU member states.

"While aware that Namibia can effect meaningful change through the Rome Statute, Namibia supports the collective withdrawal as a principle, fully cognizant of the fact that it is duty-bound to follow procedures as dictated by its own domestic laws," she said.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia