Morocco has categorically rejected a statement on the Sahara drafted by the Kenyan current Presidency of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council (PSC).
Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita declared on Friday “null and void” the statement that was issued following the PSC’s meeting on March 9 over Morocco’s Western Sahara Region.
Since July 2019, the AU, under resolution 693, has considered that the Sahara issue should be tackled within the UN framework only, standing against efforts by Morocco’s opponents to open a new path to resolve the dispute.
“The PSC’s meeting was marred by multiple flaws and raises questions,” said Bourita.
According to observers, the final communique lacks legitimacy and has no legal effect since it blatantly violates the PSC rules and procedures.
An African diplomatic source in Addis Ababa told Asharq Al-Awsat that the statement does not have any legal value because the majority of the members of the council did not ratify it.
They actually submitted fundamental amendments to it, reflecting clear disputes over it, he added.
The AU Troika should urgently revitalize its engagement with Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic with a view to peacefully finding a permanent resolution to the crisis, the PSC statement read.
It decided that the PSC shall “discharge its mandate on the conflict in Western Sahara, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Protocol and the relevant Assembly Decisions, by reviewing the situation in Western Sahara as necessary as possible at the heads of state and government level, including receiving briefings from the AU Troika.”
The AU Commission was also requested to urgently take necessary steps for the reopening of the AU Office in Laayoune, Western Sahara, in order to allow the AU to reactivate its role in the search for a political solution to this longstanding conflict.
The PSC further pointed out that it recognizes the critical role of the UN in assuming its responsibility to find a durable solution to the crisis and urged the UN Secretary General to expedite the appointment of a new personal envoy, whom it invited to work closely with the AU to enhance partnership in peace and security.
In addition, it called on the UN Secretary General to request the United Nations Legal Counsel to provide a legal opinion on the opening of consulates in the non-self-governing territory of Western Sahara.