Algeria and South Africa are working in full swing to either scrap or amend resolution 693, which was adopted by the African Summit in Nouakchott in 2018, diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.
A well-informed diplomatic source at the African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa, who requested anonymity, reported that Algerian Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum had pushed for getting rid of the decision during his January 11 visit to Pretoria, South Africa.
Resolution 693 recognized that the Western Sahara issue is the exclusive responsibility of the United Nations. It established an African mechanism comprising the AU Troika, whose role is limited to “providing effective support to the efforts led by the UN.”
Other sources ruled out that South Africa and Algeria succeed in their endeavors noting that Cyril Ramaphosa, president of both the AU and South Africa, had caved under pressure he faced last December at the 14th extraordinary AU summit on Silencing the Guns in Africa.
Ramaphosa had no choice but to acknowledge the resolution’s validity.
Nevertheless, sources noted that official statements may be in contradiction with hidden intentions held by the South African leader.
South Africa’s permanent representative to the UN had sent a letter on December 29, 2020, to the UN Secretary-General, related to what he called “the decisions of the fourteenth extraordinary session of the Assembly of the African Union, on the theme “Silencing the Guns”, including a decision on the Western Sahara issue.”
The correspondence triggered a strong reaction from Morocco.
Morocco’s Permanent Representative to the UN Omar Hilale, for his part, sent a letter to the UN Secretary General and to the President and members of the Security Council, in which he denounced South Africa’s the maneuvers and misleading tactics about the Western Sahara issue.
In his letter, Hilale pointed out that the South African correspondence misleadingly suggests that the AU extraordinary summit on “Silencing the Guns” was exclusively dedicated to the Moroccan Sahara issue, while the reality is totally different.
The South African approach to singling out the Sahara issue reveals a double attempt, at the procedural and substantive levels, to mislead the UN Secretary-General and the Security Council, the Moroccan diplomat explained.
At the procedural level, the decision and declaration of the AU 14th extraordinary summit consist of 57 paragraphs, of which only one addresses the Sahara issue, he said, adding that the wording of this paragraph is declaratory in nature, and is in no way operational.
At the substantive level, Ambassador Hilale clarified that South Africa has knowingly ignored a set of issues discussed and included in the AU Extraordinary Summit’s decision and declaration such as the threats and conflicts that hamper the development of the African continent, and the bold policies and structural economic advances, such as the African Continental Free Trade Area.
South Africa’s unavowed goal is to focus the attention of the Secretary-General and the Security Council on one issue among the 40 or so topics raised during the AU Summit at the expense of the great concerns, expectations and hopes of the continent, the Moroccan diplomat outlined in his letter.