6 June 2017

Namibia: Morocco to Institute Probe Over 'Caprivi Strip'

Photo: UNOSAT
Caprivi River (file photo).

Windhoek — In response to the support and solidarity shown by the Namibian government towards the people of Western Sahara in their quest to gain independence, Morocco has reportedly threatened to institute an investigation over Namibia's apparent domination of what was once known as the Caprivi Strip.

Namibia has on many occasions vowed it would not tire nor rest in its quest to see Morocco - which was recently re-admitted into the African Union (AU) - give up its continued occupation of Western Sahara.

President Hage Geingob is the latest high-profile Namibian leader to speak out in support of the right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, following similar demands by National Assembly Speaker Peter Katjavivi and International Relations Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah.

Speaking during the 5th Continental African Conference in Solidarity with Cuba Geingob yesterday revealed that Morocco was reportedly planning to pass a motion to investigate Namibia over its alleged domination of the Caprivi Strip, as Morocco apparently believes that the Zambezi Region is an independent country.

Geingob said Morocco's plans come in response to Namibia's continued determination and commitment to ensure that Western Sahara gains full independence.

Morocco annexed Western Sahara in 1975 and has since been resisting all efforts by the Saharawi people to regain the right to self-determination and independence.

"We can't forget our comrades. We can't forget the Saharawi people. Apparently Morocco is passing a motion. They claim we have problems in Caprivi (Zambezi). They say they will go investigate Caprivi, because we are vocal [on the issue of Western Sahara]. It's a new attempt by Morocco [to stop us]. We're not going to stop," Geingob told over 170 delegates, including Cuban representatives.

The United Nations is also seized with the matter, but the recent re-admission of Morocco to the AU might bolster its continued stranglehold over the country, also known as the Saharawi Republic, some observers of African politics believe.

Geingob said Morocco would be wasting its time investigating Namibia over the Caprivi Strip, as it is legally part of Namibia.

The conflict in Caprivi in the 90s involved an armed conflict between the Caprivi Liberation Army (CLA), a rebel group aiming for the secession of the Caprivi Strip from Namibia, led by Mishake Muyongo, and the Namibian government.

The launch of the secessionist campaign occurred on August 2, 1999 when the CLA launched an attack in Katima Mulilo, occupying the state-run radio station and attacking a police station, the Wanella border post and an army base.

Namibian armed forces quashed the secessionist attempt within a matter of days.

In this regard, Geingob said Muyongo, who has since fled Namibia for exile in Denmark, was part of the founders of the republic, who had agreed to and signed the Namibian Constitution, which lawfully recognises the Caprivi Strip as part of Namibia.

Muyongo was a member of the National Assembly from 1990 to 1999. In the 1994 presidential election he was placed second, behind then president Sam Nujoma, with 23.08 percent of the vote.

After Muyongo expressed support for the Caprivi secessionist movement in 1998, he was suspended from the DTA in August 1998 at an extraordinary meeting of the party's executive committee.

Muyongo later fled the country with Chief Boniface Mamili of the Mafwe.

Other alleged secessionists, including the former governor of the then Caprivi Region (today Zambezi) John Mabuku fled to Botswana around the same time.

Muyongo was replaced as DTA president by Katuutire Kaura, who called for Muyongo to be brought back and put on trial. Muyongo escaped the harrowing Caprivi treason trial in Namibia and remains in exile in Denmark.

The unresolved issue of the status of Western Sahara is Africa's oldest territorial dispute. Namibian leaders are insistent that Africans should not fold their hands and look the other way, while Morocco continues its illegal colonial occupation of Western Sahara and the suppression of the rights and aspirations of the Saharawi people.

Namibia

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