25 March 2019

Southern Africa: SADC Throws Weight Behind Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic's Bid for Western Sahara

Photo: GCIS
South Africa and Namibia co-host the SADC Solidarity Conference on Western Sahara in Pretoria.

On 25 and 26 March 2019, the Southern African Development Community will convene a Solidarity Conference in the City of Tshwane with the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. The conference will confirm the region's support for the decolonisation of the occupied territory and for the holding of a referendum on self-determination for the Saharawi people.

Western Sahara is a Non-Self-Governing Territory of the United Nations that lies in the Sahel region, bordered by the Kingdom of Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania. The territory has been occupied by Morocco since 1975. The Moroccan occupation was triggered by the 6 November 1975 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice stating that there was no "legal tie of territorial sovereignty between Western Sahara and the Moroccan State".

On 26 February 1976 Spain terminated its status as Administrative Power, making Western Sahara the only Non-Self-Governing Territory without an Administrative Power, meaning that de facto the UN has primary responsibility for the territory.

In response to the Moroccan occupation, the Sahrawi people mobilised for armed struggle under the leadership of the Polisario Front. UN General Assembly Resolution 34/37 of 1979 recognised the Polisario Front as the sole legitimate representative of the Saharawi people. A ceasefire agreement...

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