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Thabane backs Sahrawi Republic

Caswell Tlali

MASERU — Prime Minister Thomas Thabane says Lesotho’s experience during apartheid has given it a moral obligation to take sides with oppressed countries like Sahrawi.
Thabane was addressing a press conference on Friday on his trips to Sahrawi and Algeria on from May 9 to 11.
He said he assured the Sahrawi Prime Minister, Abd-el-Kader Taleb Omar, that Lesotho will give the oppressed country full support until it gains full independence from Morocco. The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic has been fighting for independence since 1975.
Thabane said as Lesotho stood firm against the cruelty of the apartheid government of South Africa, its moral stance against oppression is manifest for the world to see.
“Because of the experiences we had when South Africa was under the apartheid regime, we are qualified to give support and advice to similarly bullied countries like Sahrawi,” Thabane said.
The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is a state partially recognised by the United Nations but with support from all African Union countries.
The state claims sovereignty over the entire territory of Western Sahara which was formerly ruled by Spain as its colony.
Sahrawi controls only 20 to 25 percent of Western Sahara while the rest is controlled by Morocco.
The Sahrawi government considers the Moroccan-held territory to be occupied lands, while Morocco considers Sahrawi as a buffer zone.
Thabane said all countries in the African Union consider Morocco as having wrongly occupied territories belonging to Sahrawi, which made Morocco pull out of the African Union thus making it the only African country that is not a member.
“We firmly opposed apartheid despite that we are surrounded by South Africa. We showed the world that we detest oppression and we should maintain our stance to oppression as regards relations between Sahrawi and Morocco,” he said.
“We will make enough noise at the United Nations forums and other international forums about the plight of the people of Sahrawi.”
Thabane said Sahrawi has the right to self-rule and Morocco should set it free.
Thabane had attended the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of Polisario Front, a political organisation that fights for Sahrawi independence.
Thabane and his entourage visited the Sahrawi’s martyr Hanafi Centre where he met the Defence Minister Mohamed Lamine Bouhali and the National People’s Army commanders.
He also visited the Sahrawi parliament, which was founded in 1991 after the ceasefire with the Moroccan army.
Speaking at the same press conference, Foreign Affairs Minister Mohlabi Tsekoa said Sahrawi has oil and other minerals beneath its deserts.
Asked if Lesotho is planning to establish business ties with Sahrawi, Tsekoa said “the time is not yet ripe to discuss that, at present we focus more on liberating the people of Sahrawi from oppression”.

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