Secretary-General appoints Colin Stewart of Canada as Special Representative for Western Sahara

Secretary-General appoints Colin Stewart of Canada as Special Representative for Western Sahara and Head of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO)

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today announced the appointment of Colin Stewart of Canada as his Special Representative for Western Sahara and Head of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

Mr. Stewart succeeds Kim Bolduc of Canada, who completed her assignment on 22 November 2017.  The Secretary-General is grateful to Ms. Bolduc for her strong leadership and perseverance over the course of her tenure.

Mr. Stewart brings to the position demonstrated management and leadership, with more than 25 years of experience in peace and security and international affairs.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Head and Chief of Staff of the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU) in Addis Ababa.  He has held appointments in a number of United Nations field missions, including as Acting Chief of Staff and Chief of Political Affairs at the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) (2007-2009).  From 1999 to 2004, he served successively with the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) and the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET).  From 2004 to 2006, he represented The Carter Center in the West Bank and Gaza and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was a Canadian diplomat and foreign service officer from 1990 to 1997.

Born in 1961, Mr. Stewart obtained his Bachelors’ degree from Laval University in Canada.

New York, 1 December 2017


L'Ambassade du Maroc à Madrid fait état de "le groupe de soutien à Lafkir Kaziza a convoqué une conférence de presse ce jour, le 12 juin 2012 de 12h30 à 13h30, devant le siège de cette Mission, pour soutenir Lafkir Kaziza, qui mène une grève de la faim depuis le 1er juin 2012".
"Ont participé à cet acte médiatique des organes de presse et des acteurs espagnols, tels que Aitana Sanchez Gijón, Fernando Tejero, Malena Alterio, Javier Gutierrez, Nathalie Poza et Willy Toledo, accompagnés de Luis García Montero, poète et professeur de littérature à l'Université de Grenade, ainsi que des espagnols sympathisants des thèses séparatistes et des éléments du Polisario", ajoute la note.

10 Reasons Why “Morocco’s Emergence as a Gateway to Business in Africa” is a Joke

On August 4 Washington think tank the Atlantic Council held a presentation to publicize the release of “its new Issue in Focus report, ‘Morocco’s Emergence as a Gateway to Businessin Africa’ … coauthored by Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham and Senior Fellow Ricardo René Larémont. “Moderated by Dr. Pham, panelists included H.E. Moulay Hafid Elalamy, minister of industry, trade, investment, and the digital economy for the Kingdom of Morocco; Mohamed El Kettani, chairman and CEO of Attijariwafa Bank; Karim Hajji, CEO of the Casablanca Stock Exchange; Nabil Habayeb, GE’s president and CEO of Middle East, North Africa and Turkey; H.E. Moustapha Ben Barka, minister of industry and propaganda investment promotion for the Republic of Mali.

Despite the impressive economic star power here, the event amounted to little more than a Moroccan propaganda love fest and the Pham/Laremont report’s conclusion that Morocco provides a potential solution” for African “corruption, burdensome and ambiguous regulation, undeveloped human resources, poor infrastructure, and insecurity, ” is delusional. Anyone who thinks that Morocco is emerging as a gateway to business in Africa should have his head examined.

Here are 10 reasons why “Morocco’s Emergence as a Gateway to Business in Africa” is a joke

1. Morocco is the only African country that is not a member of the African Union. What is actually amazing is how few people at the event even realized this. I brought it up with pretty much everyone I spoke with, and not one even knew that Morocco dropped out of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1984 over the admission of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (as the government of Western Sahara) in 1982. With the transformation of the OAU into the African Union (AU) in 2001, Morocco has remained the only African country that is not a member of the union. This fact, alone, is hardly a good start for being a gateway for business in Africa.

2. Morocco is the only African country that is illegally occupying an ex-colony. The UN’s Fourth Committee on decolonization has only one African territory left on its list of non-self-governing territories (ex-colonies). That territory, of course, is the Western Sahara, which has been illegally occupied by Morocco for almost 40 years now, in defiance of innumerable UN resolutions and an International Court of Justice Opinion. It is a great mystery to me why a continent made up predominantly of colonies that have gained independence would see Morocco as a gateway to anything other than neo-colonization. 

3. Morocco is the world’s largest drug trafficker into Europe. Even with large governmental attempts to crack down on drug trafficking, Morocco remains among the largest exporters of hashish in the world, coming out of its legendary hippie haven in the Rif Mountains. Since we are talking about Morocco as a gateway to Africa, you might want to take a look at Drug Trafficking in Northwest Africa: The Moroccan Gateway. A pretty raunchy gateway I would say.

4. Morocco continues to have a serious corruption problem. Freedom House and Transparency International tell you all you need to know: "Despite the government’s rhetoric on combating widespread corruption, it remains a problem, both in public life and in the business world. In the 2012 book, Le Roi Prédateur, journalists Catherine Graciet and Éric Laurent leveled sharp charges of corruption at the palace. Morocco was ranked 91 out of 177 countries and territories surveyed in Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index."

And Wikileaks has even more to say about all this.

5. Freedom House’s respected Freedom of the World and Freedom of the Press ratings are not kind to Morocco and are scathing on Morocco’s occupation of the Western Sahara.Morocco’s Freedom Status in the 2014 Report is “Partly Free,” with a combined score for Political Rights and Civil Liberties far worse than South Africa, slightly worse than Nigeria, and with the same score as Madagascar and Mali. Morocco’s Freedom of the Press rating is even worse, with a status of “not Free,” which puts the country in pretty nasty company both in Africa and the world. Finally, Morocco’s occupation of part of the Western Sahara gets them a Freedom of the World rating with the status of “not free” and “Worst of the Worst” alongside Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tibet. The Atlantic Council’s conclusion that Morocco is “an especially attractive portal for investment and a significant US partner in Africa” looks a bit fishy to me.

6. Morocco, through OCP, its national office of phosphates, has been systematically and illegally looting the phosphate wealth of the illegally occupied Western Sahara, and King Mohammed VI has been systematically looting the wealth of OCP making him one of the wealthiest people on earth. The international law case against Morocco’s plunder is extensive. Western Sahara Resource Watch’s Recommended Reading on The Plundering is a good place to start on all this, and Mohammed VI’s plunder has been extensively reported. See in particular Forbe’s King of Rock and The Predator King: an Expose about Graciet and Larent’s book The Predator King: Plundering Morocco. All of this is rather disgusting stuff. Is there any wonder why, with all this plunder taking place in Morocco, literacy remains at least-developed countries’ levels.

7. Morocco has a “mediocre” record of resource governance based on its “overall lack of effective resource governance” over its phosphate sector. “Morocco is the world’s largest phosphate exporter and holds three-quarters of global phosphate reserves.” The respected Revenue Watch Institute gives Morocco “mediocre scores on all components of its Resource Governance Index (RGI)." If Morocco has anything to teach to the rest of Africa, it is how to thoroughly mismanage, steal, and waste its abundant resources.

8. Morocco is among the world’s largest incubators of terrorists. In a 2011 Brookings study by Anouar Boukhars, we learn that “The involvement of many Moroccans in international terrorism has raised pressing questions about the efficacy of the Moroccan regime’s strategy in preventing the spread of extremist ideology among the population.” In a similar vein, in the United States Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2010, we learn that despite huge Moroccan government counter-terrorism efforts “Reports of Moroccans either preparing to go or going to terrorist fronts in Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan to receive training from al-Qa-ida (AQ) linked facilitators and/or to conduct attacks suggest Morocco remained a source for foreign fighter pipelines.”

9. Morocco’s refusal to hold a referendum on independence in the Western Sahara, that it agreed to hold as part of the 1991 cease fire with the Polisario Front, has scuttled all attempts to get the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) off the ground. Morocco’s invasion and illegal occupation of part of the Western Sahara has created a situation where “Intra-regional merchandise trade has languished at 1.3 percent of the region’s total trade, one of the lowest rates of any region in the world.” Given Morocco’s miserable record of fostering trade in the Maghreb, it’s hard to see how, according to Atlantic Council and Rabat, Morocco could or would be a lovely gateway for trade in sub-Saharan Africa. 

10. Finally, “Morocco’s Emergence as a Gateway to Business in Africa” is a joke because J. Peter Pham co-wrote this brief for the Atlantic Council. Pham’s long history of dishonesty, misinformation, bias, propaganda, and misanalysis on the Western Sahara and Morocco guarantees that everything he writes or says on this topic is totally false. In other words, if he says that Morocco is emerging as a “gateway to business in Africa” you can be sure that the opposite is true – that Morocco is the gateway to hell.

Answer given by Vice-President Mogherini on behalf of the Commission

 Answer given by Vice-President Mogherini on behalf of the Commission

The EU is closely following the situation of human rights in Morocco and Western Sahara, including through its contacts with civil society organisations, human rights defenders, the National Council of Human Rights (CNDH) and its regional offices.

The EU has specifically enquired about the situation of Mohamed Daoudi. The EU has been informed that members of the regional office of Tan Tan-Guelmin payed him a visit on 8 October 2016. According to our information, on the same day Mohamed Daoudi was taken to the hospital where his health situation is being monitored.

In the context of its political dialogue with the Moroccan authorities, the EU consistently expresses its concerns about alleged cases of ill-treatment and impunity. Political dialogue goes in parallel with the important support provided by the EU through its financial cooperation to public institutions and civil society to reform the justice system in Morocco, in line with international standards and the Constitution.

The EU recalls its support to the UN Secretary-General’s efforts to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the UN.

South Sudan should not receive the Blood Money from the Moroccan King

January 22, 2017 (SSB) —- In recent time the King of Morocco has been giving away a lot of money as seen in the following instances— on October 20, 2016, WIKILEAKS leaks that the Moroccan King Promises $12 Million Dollars to meet with Hillary Clinton.

The above WIKILEAKS followed the report on Oct 18, 2016 of the visit by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI to African countries, which was said to be the first of its kind since coronation in 1999.

The visit followed a lengthy letter to African Union (AU) summit in Rwanda in which King Mohammed VI of Morocco declared his country’s intention to become a member of the union after the long time break with the body.

After that letter, the Moroccan monarch planned and started touring some countries in Africa. These countries include: Nigeria, Zambia, Madagascar, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and then now he is expected to visit South Sudan.

The first country to be visited by the King of Morocco was Rwanda where he signed 19 agreements with Rwandan Government in a bid to strengthen bilateral ties and create opportunities for citizens of both nations. As a result of those 19 agreements, millions of dollars were given to Rwanda.

After Rwanda, the Moroccan King further visited Ethiopia and as a result of that visit the Office Cherifien des Phosphates (OCP) from his Country and the Ethiopian Ministry of Public Enterprise agreed on a partnership to develop a fertilizer complex initially costing $2.4 billion in Ethiopia to serve Africa markets, which are underserved in this critical sector.

According to the OCP statement, “This game-changing partnership is based on a common vision between Morocco and Ethiopia for sustainable agricultural development across Africa and reinforces economic ties between the two countries.

After Ethiopia, King Mohammed VI of Morocco visited Tanzania in which he committed himself to fund the construction of a mosque in Dar es Salaam as part of a series of bilateral agreements between Morocco and Tanzania.

In addition, King Mohammed VI agreed to assist Tanzania in funding the construction of a sports stadium in the capital Dodoma, which is expected to cost between eighty million ($80) and one hundred ($100) million USA Dollars.

Then, after that the Moroccan king and the Tanzanian president John Magufuli signed a total of twenty two (22) agreements in areas such as political and religious cooperation, aviation, tourism, agriculture, oil and gas.

Apart from the visits above of the three countries, King Mohammed VI also visited Madagascar, Nigeria and Zambia where he left a lot of dollars. He is now set to visit South Sudan. As he had already done in all other African countries he visited, he is going to spend a lot of money in South Sudan and he will also goes into bilateral relationship with the government of South Sudan.

As seen how the King of Morocco is spending money in all the countries he visited what comes in mind is the question as to why is the Moroccan King, King Mohammed VI, spending these millions of dollars in various African Countries? Or what does he want to achieve? Though this question appears to be simple and straight forward that the King of Morocco is buying rights of the people of Western Sahara, there is a need to briefly delve into history of the relationship between Western Sahara and Morocco.

Giving the background to the present series of visits by the King of Morocco is necessary to ensure that citizens of South Sudan are aware of the fact that the King’s visit and giving of money is not just a gesture of goodwill but it has string attached.

The money that will be left in South Sudan will force South Sudan to do the wishes of Morocco contrary to the interest of South Sudanese. This is explained by the fact that the visit is intended by the Moroccan King to get support from various African Countries including South Sudan in order to destroy the right of self-determination by the people of Western Sahara.

This is because the intention of the visit has its genesis in the following circumstances. First of all, Morocco colonized the people of Western Sahara since the time the Spanish Colonial Masters left the territory on November 14, 1975. Up to now, Morocco is still a colonial master of the people of Western Sahara.

It is important to further observe as I have already pointed out above that the King of Morocco wanted to visit South Sudan to go into bilateral agreement so that South Sudan supports Morocco a bid to rejoining the AU. This is Morocco broke away from the African Union (the AU or the OAU by then) in 1984 due to the fact that the African Union recognized the Western Sahara as a Republic separate from Morocco.

Thus, for the past thirty three years, Morocco has been the only country in Africa that is not a member of the AU. This made it hard to secure the support of the countries to annex the Western Sahara. After failing to get a support from majority of the African countries that will enable it to formally annex Western Sahara to become part of Morocco, it now wants to buy its way back to African Union so that as soon as it is inside the AU, it will maneuver its way around through bribing different African countries with millions of dollars to support its bid to formally annex Western Sahara.

Once, majority of the African Countries making up the African Union accepts through bribery and trickery to endorse Morocco as the right owner of the territory making up Western Sahara and to pass a resolution to that effect, the rest of the world will have no any alternative but to follow what African Union has done.

Therefore, Morocco will have stamped its authority over Western Sahara and consequently, the rights of the Sahrawi people to self-determination will have been bought with dirty and blood money given through bribery.

In order for the readers of this article to understand how Morocco ended up colonizing the Western Sahara, it is imperative to give more details of the background of the relationship between Western Sahara and Morocco. 

In this regard, the geography tells us that Western Sahara, the disputed territory, is located in the Maghreb region of North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its surface area covers 266,000 square kilometers (103,000 sq mi).

In term of the population, Western Sahara is said to be one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, mainly consisting of desert flatlands. The population is estimated at just over five hundred thousand (500,000) (see; Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2009). “World Population Prospects, Table A.1” (PDF). 2008 revision. United Nations), of which nearly 40% live in Laayoune, the largest city in Western Sahara.

The reason for its low population as seen above may be partly due to the fact that Western Sahara as already pointed out above is colonized and its people might have been absorbed in the general population of Morocco as they go into other Moroccan towns in search for basic services.

Or the other reason may be due to the aridity of the land, which makes it unproductive hence forcing its inhabitants to go to areas far away from Western Sahara where they may carry out economic activities for their survival.

Having given the geographical location and the population of the Western Sahara, it is now time to explain the genesis of the colonization of the Western Sahara by Morocco. According to the history, Western Sahara was occupied by Spain until the late 20th century and has been on the United Nations list of non-self-governing territories since 1963 after a Moroccan demand for the right over the territory. It is the most populous territory on that list, and by far the largest in area.

In 1965, the UN General Assembly adopted its first resolution on Western Sahara, asking Spain to decolonize the territory. One year later, a new resolution was passed by the General Assembly requesting that a referendum be held by Spain on self-determination of the People of Western Sahara.

Ten years later in 1975, Spain relinquished the administrative control of the territory to a joint administration by Morocco (which had formally claimed the territory since 1957) and Mauritania. The consequence of putting the territory under the control of the two countries was a bad one.

In 1979, a war erupted between the two countries and the Sahrawi national liberation movement, the Polisario Front, which proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) with a government in exile in Tindouf, Algeria.

After the conflict between Mauritania and Morocco over the territory, Mauritania withdrew and Morocco eventually secured de facto control over most of the territory (Western Sahara), including all the major cities and natural resources. However, the war conducted by the Polisario Front against Morocco continued.

After many years of conflict, a cease-fire was signed between Morocco and the Polisario Front under the supervision of the United Nations in 1991. From 1991 to date the UN still maintains a field mission which was mandated to organize a self-determination referendum which has not yet materialized up to now.

However as I have already pointed out above, it should be further noted that the reason for Morocco breaking away from the AU (which was by then OAU), was due to the fact the Polisario Front, the Separatist unilaterally declared Western Sahara as Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic which was admitted by the African Union (or the OAU by then).

The above move by the African Union to recognize the Western Sahara, which was a territory claimed by Morocco angered the Moroccan Government, which forced it to break away the AU same year.

It should be noted since that time King Hassan II, current King Mohammed’s father withdrew from the OAU in 1984 Morocco has never been a member. Hence, it was not until July, 2016, when Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar visited Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa. During that visit, Mezouar delivered a letter from King Mohammed to Ethiopian Prime Minister Haile Mariam Dessalines calling for improved “cooperation and bilateral relations between the two countries.”

At the same time, King Mohammed also announced in July 2016 in a message sent to an AU summit in the Rwandan capital, Kigali in which he stated that it was time for Morocco to retake its place in African Union.

The reasons for deciding to rejoin African Union were stated in that letter as the Al Jazeera reported it. Al Jazeera reported that, in his message, King Mohammed urged the AU to reconsider its stance on what he called the “phantom state”, saying that a political solution was being worked on under the supervision of the UN.

The letter went on to state that Western Sahara is not a member of either the UN or the Arab League and added that “at least 34 countries do not recognize it.

Then importantly, the King stressed in that letter that “on the Sahara issue, institutional Africa can no longer bear the burden of a historical error and a cumbersome legacy,” and then observed that through this historic act and return, Morocco wants to work within the AU to transcend divisions.” Thus according to the King as was pointed out in that letter, Morocco’s return to the AU would need to be validated by a vote.

Therefore, the move of the Moroccan King in visiting various countries should not come as a surprise to anyone because it is a calculated mover. As one of commentaries on the same issue observed, “the king of Morocco’s recent declaration that his country wants to return to the African Union after a 32-year absence appears to be a political maneuver to gain ground in the Western Sahara dispute” (see; Author Ayah Aman. Why Morocco really wants back in the African Union Read more: Posted July 27, 2016 Translator Cynthia Milan)

Having explained the rationale for Moroccan King Visits to and giving of millions of dollars to different African Countries as discussed above, it is my opinion that South Sudan should not receive any money from Morocco though it should only welcome the Moroccan King as party of comity between the two states.

Receiving such money may amount to selling the right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara and because of that South Sudan should decline to go into bilateral relationship with Morocco that may make them to receive blood money.

I have used a lot the term “blood money” which needs me to give the reason for the choice of that phrase. This is basically to show my disapproval of such money being received by South Sudan as it may lead to giving off the right of South Sudan as a country to decide as to what is good for her people in the African Union Summit with regard to Morocco.

In addition, it is the “blood money” because it is being used by the King of Morocco to buy the right to eliminate the right to self-determination by the people of the Western Sahara as Moroccan King will validate his annexation of that territory to Morocco.

The annexation of Western Sahara to Morocco will be contrary to the International human rights law, which provides for the right to self-determination that was accorded to South Sudanese that led to their independence. In the same way, the right of self-determination of the people of Western Sahara was confirmed in the Advisory Opinion and Order of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 16 October 1975.

The question referred to the ICJ was to determine whether the territory, prior to the Spanish colonization, was res nullius, or without legal tie to a sovereign, or whether such ties existed, and if they existed, whether such titles vested in either Morocco or Mauritania, or both. After an examination of evidence of political, military, religious, and economic ties between the claimants and the inhabitants of the territory before Spain‘s arrival, the judges found that the information before the Court does not support Morocco‘s claim to have exercised territorial sovereignty over Western Sahara. The Court explained that while the evidence showed that the Sultan exercised some authority over some, but only some, of the nomadic tribes of the region, it does not establish any tie of territorial sovereignty between Western Sahara and that State. It does not show that Morocco displayed effective and exclusive State activity in the Western Sahara. The Court‘s response to Mauritania‘s claim was also the same.

Moreover, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) observes that there is a need for the decolonization of Western Sahara and, in particular, recognition of the principle of self-determination through the free and genuine expression of the will of the peoples of the Territory.

The above decision of the ICJ is in line with the UN Charter, 1945 and the various United Nations Resolutions that refer to the principle of self-determination as belongs to peoples.

Hence, looking at the above laws on the right of the peoples to self-determination and in relation to the recognition of the Western Sahara as Independence State it means that the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination must be respected by all countries including South Sudan.

Hence, if South Sudan receives that blood money from the King of Morocco, then it will have a negative implication on its foreign policy and the right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. For instance, South Sudan would have been bribed with that money and it will have no objection to the admission of Morocco back to the African Union.

Sadly, once Morocco is admitted, then it will be easier for her to maneuver its way around through bribery and trickery to ensure that its annexation of the Western Sahara is confirmed and validated through the vote by African Union.

With that regard, South Sudan would have compromised its position on the right to Self-determination enjoyed by all the colonized peoples. The position of South Sudan to support the right to self-determination enjoyed by all the peoples was confirmed in the ill-intended decision in the case of Palestine on 29, November, 2012. In that case South Sudan supported the right of the people of Palestine to self-determination in Designation accorded in 1988 resolution 43/17 by the UN General Assembly in New York.

I have used the phrased “ill-intended” in the above paragraph because it was planned by some government officials to victimize South Sudanese Ambassador to the UN His Excellency, Amb. Nazario as Beny Gideon Mabor wrote about in his article entitled: South Sudan’s vote on Palestine UN Status: How Amb. Nazario is victimized.

As Sudantribune reported about the position of South Sudan on December 3, 2012 (WASHINGTON) “the Republic of South Sudan strongly defended its position on the status of Palestine in the United Nations, saying its vote in favor of the resolution was to support the right of self-determination of the Palestinians.”

Thus, South Sudan should not support Morocco in this case to enable Morocco to mutilate the right to self-determination by the people of Western Sahara. Besides, it is a sure deal that Morocco will never vote in favour of the people of Abyei to confirm their right to self-determination once it has been readmitted to African Union as that action will contradict its position on Western Sahara.

Therefore, since the international diplomacy is founded on reciprocity and comity, then South Sudan has a right to reject both the money from Morocco and its readmission to African Union unless Moroccan has recognized the Western Sahara as separate territory from Morocco. In doing that South Sudan would have saved its independence in decision making in regard to Morocco and its future interests in Abyei.

In fact, it is clear that if South Sudan receives Moroccan King’s blood money, then it has to support Morocco in all areas as Morocco is going to establish a strong bilateral relation with South Sudan as it happened with the other countries already visited by the King of Morocco.

In that respect, what South Sudan must know therefore is that once one country has entered into bilateral relation with another country an agreement that gives rise to a bilateral relation becomes a treaty which must be performed in good faith in accordance with article 26 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT), 1969.

Any failure to act in accordance with the agreement will always have serious repercussions on the disobeying state. Knowing that, the best way South Sudan may avoid future negative implications of the treaty of that kind is to decline to go into bilateral relation with Morocco in the first place.

In summary, if South Sudan accepts the money from Morocco and they go into bilateral relationship, then South Sudan would have compromised the right of self determination of the people of Western Sahara and by implication the right of self-determination of the people of Abyei.

Otherwise, South Sudan should always be concerned with the protection of the interest of its citizens but not to please other countries. South Sudan should have learned a lesson from its voting in 2012 in favour of Palestine.

In my humble opinion, one of the causes of our crisis is that blind and unreasonable voting to support Palestine. It was at that point the USA America and Israel began to be careful with South Sudan and also to look for a way to change the leadership in the country as South Sudan was showing to be more stubborn.

In short, the whole thing goes to the fact that South Sudan does not have any foreign policy so the country depends on trial and error method in foreign relations, which in most cases put the country in a very critical position.

The only way South Sudan can avoid blunders in foreign relations is to formulate clear foreign policy that guides its actions in relating with the other countries. Short of that citizens of South Sudan will always be the victims of the actions of their leaders in relation to foreign policy.

Hence, I conclude by emphasizing that South Sudan should not go into bilateral relationship with Moroccan King or with Morocco as a country because it will have a negative implication on South Sudanese and the country. Justice, liberty and prosperity should be our guide for God and my country.

NB// the authority can be reached through:

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

Independence of Western Sahara is an inalienable right

This week’s working visit to South Africa by President Brahim Ghali of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) is significant as it comes at a critical time when we marked the 40th anniversary of the proclamation of the SADR, founded in 1976, and the continuing illegal occupation of Western Sahara by the Kingdom of Morocco. South Africa has maintained a principled position on the right to self-determination for the Saharawi people as enshrined in the United Nations (UN) Charter and the African Union (AU) Constitutive Act. We have also intensified our solidarity with the Polisario Front liberation movement, as they lead the people of Western Sahara in their quest for peace and independence.

By MAITE NKOANA-MASHABANE, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation.

President Ghali’s upcoming visit strongly signals South Africa’s unwavering commitment towards the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people. The visit also aims to further strengthen and consolidate relations between our two countries.

In September 2004, South Africa took a decision to recognise the SADR when it became clear that Morocco had ruled out any possibility for a referendum for Western Sahara in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 1495 of 2003.

Diplomatic ties between our two countries have been cemented with the SADR having a residential embassy in Pretoria, whilst our Ambassador to Algeria is accredited to the SADR. Political and development assistance are rendered to the SADR through the African Renaissance Fund (ARF). Furthermore, areas of cooperation between our two countries exist in the field of diplomatic consultations, arts and culture, youth sports development, as well as humanitarian relief and landmine removal.

The prolonged suffering of the people of Western Sahara and the lack of progress in finding a durable solution to the struggle for self-determination in the territory on the basis of international legality remains a major concern for the South African Government.
The Western Sahara has been on the decolonisation agenda of the UN and AU for more than fifty years. In 1963, Western Sahara was included on the list of non-self-governing territories under Article 73 of the UN Charter to which the UN General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 1960 on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, applies.

The Polisario Front liberation movement continued its struggle to end all foreign occupation of its country and in 1976 formed a government-in-exile and declared the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic. In November 1984, the Polisario Front’s SADR was recognised by the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU), which led to the withdrawal of Morocco from the OAU in protest. In May 1991, the Polisario Front and Morocco ended many years of fighting following an UN-sponsored peace settlement.

The final status of the state of Western Sahara will only be settled when a UN-supervised referendum is held in which the country’s inhabitants must exercise their legitimate right to self-determination.

South Africa remains confident that a date for holding of a referendum on the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, will be realised. We therefore support the call made by the African Union (AU) for the UN General Assembly to determine a date for the holding of the referendum in accordance with the International Court of Justice’s advisory opinion of 16 October 1975.

The AU is appealing for an enhanced and coordinated international action towards the organisation of a referendum for self-determination, in compliance with the OAU/AU decisions and UN resolutions and to bring the project of decolonisation to its final conclusion.

In this regard, South Africa will continue to support the work of the AU Special Envoy for Western Sahara, former President Joaquim Chissano, who has met with the UN Security Council and other high-level representatives in the last year to discuss a just and durable solution that will provide for self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.

Africa has a moral and political responsibility to contribute to the solution to conflicts in the continent and must play a leading role and guidance for international efforts regarding the conflict in Africa.

The decrease in humanitarian funding for Western Saharan refugees coupled with the growing frustration among Saharawi youth over the lack of progress in the negotiations and lack of employment poses specific dangers for the region in the near future. The international community should increase their humanitarian support to the Saharawi refugees, who continue to live in the harsh desert conditions due to the non-resolution of the conflict.

We are of the view that the lack of progress continues to have dire humanitarian consequences and also remains an impediment towards greater regional integration and security cooperation in the region.

South Africa will continue to call for both parties- Morocco and the SADR- to resume direct negotiations in good faith and without preconditions to achieve a mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.

We also call for the end to the illegal exploitation of resources in the Western Sahara occupied territories and human rights abuses against the Saharawi people.

We trust that in April 2017, the issue of human rights will be taken into consideration when the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) will come before the Security Council for renewal. MINURSO must be given the mandate to monitor and report to the Council on human rights violations in Western Sahara.

We remain committed to continue to walk with the people of Western Sahara until they are free to live in their own land and able to determine their own future.

Behind Morocco's new tango with the African Union

Yohannes Woldemariam

The next African Union summit will be on January 31, 2017 in Addis Ababa, where Morocco is hoping to achieve its sinister agenda against Western Sahara, Africa’s last colony. The honourable thing for the AU is to rebuff Morocco’s arm-twisting and vigorously support the self-determination of the Saharawi people.

Morocco is currently courting a number of African countries relentlessly, including Madagascar, Tanzania, Rwanda, and others. Morocco has signed 19 economic agreements with Rwanda and 22 with Tanzania—two countries that traditionally backed Western Sahara’s quest for decolonization. Nigeria and Morocco have signed a total of 21 bilateral agreements, a joint venture to construct a gas pipeline that will connect the two nations as well as some other African countries to Europe. It is easily clear that the economic agreements with these countries imply ulterior motives for increasing Morocco’s leverage in its campaign to return to the African Union (AU) and deal a blow to Western Sahara’s aspirations for self-determination. Morocco is waging a similar campaign internationally and in the halls of the U.S. Congress by hiring expensive lobbyists and sleazy public relations firms

In this endeavor, it appears Morocco is making significant progress in isolating Western Sahara. Kenya, which once supported Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), reversed course in 2007 and now Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed, candidate to head the African Union Commission, is calling for holding, as quickly as possible, “the referendum on Western Sahara people’s self-determination.” Zambia has similarly vacillated after early support for the cause of Western Sahara. According to WikiLeaks, at least until 2009 Ethiopia’s position was to recognize the SADR, declared by the Polisario (Western Sahara’s guerrilla army) in 1976 as its representative body. It still remains to be seen how countries will vote when it really matters.

Ironically, according to the WikiLeaks, Eritrea’s position is unknown but is not listed among the countries that recognized SADR, although the history of the territory bears striking resemblance to its own struggle for independence from Ethiopia and the independence struggles of Belize and East Timor. Both Belize and East Timor recognize SADR. Africa committed itself to maintain colonial borders, drawn arbitrarily in the 19th and 20th centuries, after the collapse of European colonialism. This commitment was not made because those borders made any sense: borders were rarely congruent with ethnic geographical homelands or previous historical delineations. One can debate the pros and cons of this but Africa made the decision in Cairo in 1964 to keep these borders in order to avoid disruptive and endless conflict of trying to rearrange colonial boundaries to fit language groups or ethnicities. For better or worse, that is what was decided with the Cairo resolution (AHG/Res. 16(I)). Nevertheless, Morocco is choosing to mess with that resolution by gobbling up Western Sahara.

But why does Morocco need the AU? And why does it need to bribe the African countries in order to return to the continental body as dysfunctional and weak as it is? The explanation for this dubious posturing lies in Morocco’s illegal occupation of Western Sahara and its need to legitimize it by enlisting as many African countries as possible to accept Western Sahara’s fate as fait accompli. Morocco has been occupying or colonizing (take your pick) the territory since 1974. Recently, U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki Moon characterized Morocco as an occupying force in Western Sahara, which obviously did not sit well with Morocco.


Western Sahara consists of the former Spanish colonies of Rio de Oro (River of Gold) and Saqiet al-Hamra (Red Creek) along the Atlantic coast, until the Spanish dictator Franco decided to leave the territories in 1974. The territory’s natural resources include phosphates, offshore fishing and potential oil. Morocco’s occupation has been aided by Spain and France (former colonizers) acting through the United Nations. Mauritania was also an early protagonist in occupying a part of Western Sahara but abandoned its claim after being soundly defeated by the Polisario, which precipitated the collapse of the Mauritanian government. Between Western Sahara and Morocco, there has been an impasse and a no-war, no-peace status quo since 1991, after a ceasefire brokered by the United Nations. Morocco has proposed “internal autonomy” for Western Sahara, but the Saharawis insist on a United Nations supervised referendum vote, with independence on the table. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) after consideration of materials and information provided by both sides concluded there is no evidence:

“…establish[ING] any tie of territorial sovereignty between the territory of Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco or the Mauritanian entity... the Court has not found legal ties of such a nature as might affect the application of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) in the decolonization of Western Sahara and, in particular, of the principle of self-determination through the free and genuine expression of the will of the peoples of the Territory.”

In a rare show of some backbone, the OAU welcomed Western Sahara’s membership, which incensed Morocco and caused its withdrawal from the organization in 1984—making it the only country to do so in the history of the organization. This was a strategic mistake by Morocco, which it seems to have finally realized. It is notable that the only country vocally supporting the Moroccan position at the time was the kleptocracy of Mobutu Sese Seko’s Zaire. Upon his overthrow, Mobutu was granted asylum in Togo but died in Morocco in 1997, where he was receiving medical treatment.

Morocco is now undergoing a change of heart and wants to join the successor to the O.A.U., the AU. Does this mean it wants to coexist with the Western Sahara within the “AU family,” perhaps rediscovering its African identity? The short answer is no. It is more like a change in tactics by trying to use the organization for its objective of neutralizing Western Sahara from inside the AU. Already, it has the backing of 28 African countries. However, it needs two thirds (36) of the votes from the 54 member countries of the AU to get SADR expelled. To return to the organization, it only needs a simple majority while overcoming resistance from powerful countries like South Africa and Algeria along with Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea. South Africa and Algeria have been reliable allies for SADR. This move by Morocco has become a terribly divisive wedge issue within the AU.

Outside Africa, Morocco has powerful support for its position from influential Gulf States such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, which are not members of the AU, but which can still use their political influence and the power of the purse to coerce and lobby cash-strapped African countries and the United Nations. In a clear show of muscle, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and UAE walked out from a meeting of the Arab and African foreign ministers meeting, which was held in the capital of Equatorial Guinea, Malabo, in preparation for the fourth Arab-African summit, because of opposition to the presence of a delegation from SADR. Notable here are Saudi Arabian and UAE’s forceful expressions of solidarity with Morocco.

Among African countries, Senegal strongly backs Morocco’s position, undoubtedly due to great pressure from France and Moroccan economic investors in Senegal. Morocco is also the largest investor in Ivory Coast and therefore can count on strong Ivorian support. Morocco has stronger support in Francophone Africa.

Tit for tat with Egypt

In a setback for Morocco, relations with Egypt have been strained visibly since the end of October due to President Abdelfattah El Sissi permitting a delegation from the Polisario Front to enter Sharm El-Sheikh in an official capacity. The delegation reportedly met with presidents of Arab and African parliaments and with members of the Egyptian legislature during its stay. The visit by the King of Morocco to Addis Ababa is likely in retaliation by Rabat to exploit Cairo’s ongoing dispute with Addis Ababa over the sharing of Nile waters and specifically over the issues surrounding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Ethiopia has been accusing Egypt of helping and stoking the ongoing ethnic rebellions in Ethiopia.

Illegal mining of Western Sahara’s potash

Morocco is exploiting and using Western Sahara’s potash resource to bribe and lobby countries like Ethiopia, casting doubt on the sincerity of its offer for “internal autonomy” to the territory.

According to the

“Two Canadian fertilizer firms have become the dominant buyers of phosphate rock from the disputed territory of Western Sahara after other companies stopped the practice… Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) found that Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. and Agrium Inc. shipped a combined 916,000 tonnes of phosphate from the territory last year. That accounted for 64.5 per cent of all purchases from Western Sahara in 2015. Potash Corp. shipped 474,000 tonnes and Agrium shipped 442,000...”

Unholy overtures

At a time when the Ethiopian government is gripped by nationwide protests and foreign businesses are fleeing the country, there have been headlines that “Morocco signed an agreement…to invest over two billion dollars in Ethiopia over a five year period to build a fertilizer factory.” The Financial Times reported that the OCP (Morocco’s state-owned phosphate company) sealed a deal to build $3.7bn fertilizer plant in Ethiopia. This is hailed as the largest investment of Morocco outside the country and as an example of South-South cooperation. The dubious clue for this motive is to be found in “Ethiopia’s support for Morocco’s return to the African institutional family ...articulated in a joint statement issued following King Mohammed VI’s ... visit to Ethiopia, the first since his accession to the throne.”

Here, it needs to be asked: where is this resource feeding the fertilizer company coming from? And why is Ethiopia chosen for such an investment? Is this deal another case of partnership-in-crime?

Moroccan robbery of Western Sahara’s resources is widespread. Hillary Clinton was complicit with relaxing U.S. foreign aid restrictions on Morocco during her tenure as Secretary of State, allowing U.S. funds to be used in the territory of Western Sahara where OCP operates phosphate-mining operations. Collaterally, Hillary’s favor to Morocco resulted in $12 million for the Clinton Foundation, courtesy of King Mohammed VI.

Morocco’s questionable commitment to South- South cooperation

Ethiopia is seen as key for Morocco’s goals, as a founding member of the OAU hosting the headquarters of the AU’s Chinese-funded 200-million-dollar building in Addis Ababa, showcasing Chinese soft power. Morocco is framing its charm offensive in Africa in terms of South- South cooperation. But what really is Morocco’s commitment to South-South cooperation? Like Ethiopia, Morocco’s commitment, first of all, is commitment to an extreme form of neoliberalism and to an environmental narrative that blames pastoralists and their overgrazing practices as an excuse for invading and appropriating land for commercial agriculture and other land grabs. In Morocco, state services such as health care and education have faced drastic reduction. The promotion of exports and the lowering of tariffs is the reality. For the majority of their populations, rampant degradation and poverty are the reality in both countries.

A central tenet of South-South cooperation is poverty reduction, but neoliberalist market fundamentalism is incompatible with reducing inequality and protecting the environment. The beneficiaries from these policies are the elite and international capitalists and their results are a far cry from South-to-South cooperation that would alleviate poverty. Even the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was used by Morocco to insert itself in the 16 November 2016 meeting of the Africa Action Summit in Marrakesh. King Mohammed VI was the new face in the meeting, clearly pushing his campaign to get rid of SADR from the AU.

The struggle to deal seriously with climate change should not be circumvented by the unjust political agendas of opportunistic leaders. As Hamza Hamouchene of War on Want articulates: there cannot be authentic environmental justice in Morocco when its government ignores the political rights of the Saharawi people.

In 2009, in his capacity as a designated negotiator, the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi betrayed the G77’s and Africa’s collective stance in Copenhagen by making a back-door deal with France retreating from the agreed upon 1.5 degrees Celsius target to 2 degrees and thereby dealing a serious blow to the bargaining capacity of the global South. As Kate Sheppard of Mother Jones magazine wrote:

“The major powers welcomed Ethiopia’s defection from the 1.5-degree target. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown…endorsed the side deal with France….Obama placed a call to Zenawi [in which he] expressed his appreciation for the leadership [of] the Prime Minister… [In negotiating] with African countries on climate change.”

The truth was that Meles used Copenhagen to further his own immediate agenda at the expense of Africa in much the same way that King Mohammed VI used COP22 to support Morocco’s agenda of denying the rights of the Saharawi people.

Moroccan and Ethiopian versions of South-to-South cooperation is simply a repackaged version of neoliberalism based on extractive activities and destroying the lives of the most vulnerable. It is not a coincidence that both Ethiopia and Morocco are facing internal resistance from their populations, which they are trying to suppress with extreme violence.

The brutal death of the fish seller Mouhcine Fikri in the northern Moroccan town of Al Hoceima while trying to rescue his swordfish is being compared with the Tunisian fruit seller Mohamed Bouazizi in 2010, whose death sparked the Arab Spring uprisings. Neoliberal privatization is preventing and displacing folks who have been selling or consuming fish for as long as they have been living in the coastal towns of Morocco. In Ethiopia, it is land grab and extreme repression that is having similar effect on communities in Gambella, Benishangul, and the Amhara region, Sidama, Konso, Ogaden and Oromia.

January 31, 2017, in Addis Ababa is the next AU summit, where Morocco is hoping to achieve its sinister goal against SADR. The honorable thing for the AU to do is to rebuff Morocco’s arm-twisting and vigorously support the self-determination of the Saharawi people.

* Yohannes Woldemariam is an educator and author. This article first appeared in theHuffington Post.

The attacks against foreigners are increasing in Morocco.

Jewish couple killed in Casablanca
The Moroccan government is trying to hide its notorious plight with terrorism to preserve the position of Morocco as a preferred destination for European tourists. The Moroccan authorities claimed the attacks were carried out by people affected by mental illness. However, these recursive attacks against tourists continue to multiply and it is increasingly clear that they are executed in the name of Islam. 

On October 4th 2016, a Dutch and two children on a visit to Casablanca were stabbed by a Moroccan while visiting the Hassan II Mosque. The video of the assault filmed by a witness went viral on social media networks imperiling the myth of Morocco as a holiday destination for European tourists. An assault that was met with total silence from the authorities, who not only imposed a blackout in the local press, but also begged discretion from Dutch consular authorities. Jewish couple murdered in Casablanca 

The same attitude of the Moroccan authorities was manifested in last August attack of five Italian owners of a circus parade when a Moroccan assailant killed one and four others were wounded. Again, the authorities hastily tried to minimize the political impact of this aggression by attributing the act to a "serial offender" and labeled the act as part of a "personal dispute" between the offender and the circus owners who had fired him from his job. 

On July 2nd 2016, Sam and Vicky Chetrit Toledano, a Jewish couple living in Casablanca, were murdered in their homes. In order to cover the tracks, the Moroccan authorities attributed the crime to their gardener. 

Last but not least, on September 26th 2016, three Spanish cyclists were attacked with an ax by a group of Moroccans in Nador, north of Morocco. Paradoxically, these bloody incidents haven't been described as a suspected case of "xenophobia" or, worse, an act of "terrorism" while they freshly carry all the ingredients of an act of xenophobia tinged in terrorism.

The iconic artist Cynthia Basinet stresses UN to solve Western Sahara conflict

The iconic singer, actress, activist, Cynthia Basinet, best known for the most popular version of "Santa Baby" returns to the United Nation for the 10th occasion to defend Western Sahara people's rights.

Basinet has worked to draw attention to the plight of the Sahrawi refugees of Western Sahara living since 40 years, in camps southern of Algeria waiting for their right to selfdetermination. 

In May 2001, she visited these camps in solidarity with the sahrawi people. Last October 5, 2016, speaking in a meeting of the United Nations Fourth Committee (also known as the Special Political and Decolonization Committee), Nobel Peace Prize nominee and social change activist, Cynthia Basinet warned that 16 years into a new century, the international community could "ill afford the cost of the voiceless". The World could not flourish if societies were alienated, she said, adding that "our enemies are those whom we alienate and not embrace, for they, too, are part of the solution". 

She said the struggle of the Sahrawi had strengthened her own fight; emphasizing that the time had come for a referendum in Western Sahara, as agreed in 1991."

Always on the forefront of social eco trends, Cynthia's stylistic influence can be witnessed in fashion to music and social media.

The LA native is best known for her jazzy pop stylings on her hits like, "Going Out Of My Head" and the sultry hit, "Santa Baby" recorded in 1997.

Her latest single, a dance anthem, "All Of Me", remix of John Legend's hit ballad now has fans jumping to their feet.

Morocco sufferns legal setback as EU official declares Western Sahara "not part of Morocco"

The tricky relationship between the EU and Morocco is set to become more fractious, after an influential legal opinion delivered to a Brussels court declared that the disputed territory of Western Sahara is not part of Morocco. In a statement issued on September 13, Melchior Wathelet, an advocate general at the Court of Justice in Brussels, said that “Western Sahara is not part of Moroccan territory and therefore … neither the EU-Morocco Association Agreement, nor the Liberalisation Agreement are applicable to it.” 

Advocates general provide independent legal opinions to judges at the Court of Justice. These opinions are advisory and non-binding but are often influential. The opinion is the latest step in an ongoing case which caused a serious rift between Brussels and Morocco last year. In December 2016, the Court of Justice ruled that a four-year-old deal between the EU and Morocco covering trade in agricultural and fishery products (also known as the Liberalisation Agreement) should be scrapped because it included products from Western Sahara. 

Members of the Polisario Front mourn their leader, Mohamed Abdelaziz, at his funeral in the Rabouni refugee camp in south west Algeria, on June 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Sidali Djarboub) That led Rabat to break off all contact with Brussels for three months. It was only mollified by the European Commission’s criticism of the court ruling and its decision to appeal the court’s verdict. The legal opinion offered to the court by Wathelet forms part of that appeal process. Morocco also fell out with the US over the issue of Western Sahara in May this year. 

Norway Continues to Distance Sovereign Wealth Fund from Energy Efforts in Western... Western Sahara Looms Heavy Over Morocco's Energy Aspirations Why Western Sahara Matters MOST POPULAR Photos: The Richest Person In Every State +368,986 VIEWS Apple iOS 10 Has 25 Great Secret Features MOST POPULAR Photos: The Most Expensive Home Listing in Every State 2016 MOST POPULAR iPhone 7: The Important Stuff The latest development is likely to cause further problems for the relationship between Brussels and Rabat and represents a set-back for the European Commission as much as it does for Morocco. The two sides are keen to foster better relations in a range of areas, including trade, migration and security. If the European Commission’s appeal fails – as now looks more likely – there could be ramifications in all these areas. It also represents something of a mixed blessing for the Polisario Front, the liberation movement for Western Sahara. Although Wathelet supported its long-standing contention that the territory is not part of Morocco, he also said the Polisario Front should only be recognised as the representative of the people of Western Sahara in the political process aiming to resolve the status of the territory, and not for the purposes of defending their commercial interests. Nonetheless, Emhamed Khadad, a member of the Polisario Front’s secretariat, said in a statement that “this is an important opinion and reaffirms once again that under international law Western Sahara is not part of Morocco.” As yet there has been no official statement from Morocco on the latest twist in the case. Morocco invaded Western Sahara in 1975 and has since claimed it as part of its own territory. However, it has few supporters for its position on the international stage. As Wathelet noted in his legal opinion, Western Sahara has been included on the UN’s list of non-self-governing territories since 1963 and the EU has never recognised the territory as being part of Morocco. In March this year, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon angered the Moroccan government when he described the situation as an “occupation”.