26 March 2019

Southern Africa: Minister Lindiwe Sisulu Welcomes SADC Ministers to SADC Solidarity Conference With Western Sahara

press release

Minister Sisulu says the time has come for the people of Western Sahara to exercise their right to self-determination through a referendum

The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu, has told the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Ministers that the SADC Solidarity Conference with Western Sahara "serves to remind us of what we have always believed, that until the last colony, the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, is decolonised, none of us are truly free".

Minister Sisulu was delivering a welcome address at the preparatory meeting by SADC Ministers and other participating Ministers from other regions ahead of the SADC Solidarity Conference with Western Sahara by Heads of State and Government scheduled for tomorrow, 26 March 2019.

The SADC Solidarity Conference with Western Sahara is convened to, among other things, reaffirm the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination in line with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations (UN) and applicable documents of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and African Union (AU) as well as to champion the implementation of the UN resolutions and OAU and AU decisions to allow the people of Western Sahara to exercise their right to self-determination.

"This conference is a clear demonstration of our international solidarity with the Saharawi people in their quest for self-determination. Over the next two days, SADC hopes to come up with concrete steps in which we can strengthen and support the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination. It is this kind of solidarity and support for the people of Western Sahara that must give courage and impetus to their struggle for self-determination", said Minister Sisulu.

"Most of us here have attained our freedom, strengthened and assisted by the solidarity of people who cared about our plight. We knew that every country has an inalienable right to independence and self-determination", added Minister Sisulu.

Minister Sisulu acknowledged the significant role played by the United Nations through the passing of resolutions aimed at raising the plight of the people of Saharawi, including a decision that there must be a referendum in Western Sahara.

More than 20 countries are represented at the SADC Solidarity Conference with Western Sahara. The countries include Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Algeria, Uganda, Botswana, Nigeria, United Kingdom, Cuba, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Malawi, Eswatini, Mauritius, Tanzania, Seychelles, Kenya, Venezuela, Sao Tome and Principe, Timo-Leste, as well Western Sahara.

"We as South Africans are honoured to host this conference as South Africa is itself a product of international solidarity. Let the people of Western Sahara leave this conference with the knowledge that we are fully behind them", she concluded.

Issued by: Department of International Relations and Cooperation

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