WESTERN Sahara is lobbying Lesotho and other southern African countries’ support in its bid for independence from Morocco at this week’s African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The summit will be held from 27 June to 4 July.
Western Sahara special envoy and Foreign Affairs Minister Mohamed Salem Ould Salek Mr Salek was recently in the country where he met Prime Thomas Thabane and Lesotho’s Minister of Foreign and International Affairs, Lesego Makgothi.
“Western Sahara has come to Lesotho to ask for support at the up-coming AU Summit so that we be treated as an independent state from Morocco,” Mr Salek said.
Morocco has laid claim to Western Sahara ever since Spain relinquished control of the North African territory in 1957.
Various efforts to resolve the long-running issue have been initiated without success, including a 1991 United Nations-brokered referendum which flopped after Morocco and the Polisario Front disagreed over who should vote. The Polisario wants complete independence from Morocco.
Mr Salek said Lesotho had always been very supportive in the struggle for independence from Morocco and Spain. He said they wanted Morocco to respect them as a sovereign country, adding, “We can’t accept this anymore and would like to thank the government of Lesotho for its support”.
He also said they would like to see the two countries working together in mutual areas of interest.
He also revealed that he would visit other SADC countries to enlist their support.
For his part, Mr Makgothi said, “the objective of the visit was solely to congratulate the Prime Minister and his new government and to enhance the bilateral relations shared by the two countries”.
“They want to be recognised as an independent state by the African Union,” Mr Salek said.