International relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah yesterday called on the United Nations to intervene in the disputed Western Sahara after the leader of the pro-independence Polisario Front vowed to end a 29-year ceasefire with Morocco, citing recent border operations as a provocation.
In a brief interview with New Era yesterday, Nandi-Ndaitwah urged UN secretary general António Guterres to do his utmost best in order to restore the collapsed three-decade ceasefire in Western Sahara.
Nandi-Ndaitwah also called on Guterres to speed up the implementation of the UN and Organisation of African Union (OAU) Settlement Plan, accepted by both parties and approved by the Security Council in 1990 and 1991 to implement the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).
“What we are saying as Namibia is that we still believe that there is room for negotiations. We still believe that it is important for the Security Council resolution on Western Sahara with particular reference to the referendum to be implemented,” said Nandi-Ndaitwah.
She further encouraged the parties in the dispute to engage again in negotiations in order to accelerate a peaceful solution in compliance with international laws and respect for borders. Namibia has been a true ally of Western Sahara. The country’s leadership has over the years reiterated its continued support to Namibia for the self-determination and independence of Western Sahara and the struggle of the Sahrawi people.
In February this year, President Hage Geingob also renewed the call for self-determination in Western Sahara. Renewed clashes between Morocco and the Polisario Front threatened to unravel a decades-old ceasefire in disputed areas. The Polisario Front on Friday said the ceasefire in disputed Western Sahara ended after Morocco launched an operation in a border area. “War has started, the Moroccan side has liquidated the ceasefire,” senior Polisario official Mohamed Salem Ould Salek told the AFP news agency.
The Moroccan military early on Friday started an operation to clear the road in the Guerguerat area, linking to neighbouring Mauritania, which it said had been blockaded for weeks by supporters of the Polisario Front. The road, located in an UN-monitored buffer zone in the far south of Western Sahara, links the Morocco-controlled territory to neighbouring Mauritania.
Rabat said the operation was launched to “put a stop to the blockade” of trucks travelling between the Western Sahara and Mauritania and restore movement. This comes as Rabat announced last week that its troops have launched an operation in no man’s land on the southern border of the Western Sahara to end “provocations” by the pro-independence Polisario Front.
As the last two colonies left on the African continent to fight for their independence, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) and Namibia walked parallel roads in their quest for self-determination. But Namibia obtained its independence in 1990 from former apartheid South Africa, while Western Sahara continues to fight for its right to self-determination from Morocco, even though the SADR was proclaimed on 27 February 1976.
-Additional reporting by AFP
Hand in hand… Leader of the Polisario Front Brahim Ghali pictured with President Hage Geingob during Ghali’s state visit to Namibia in 2018.