SA, Morocco hold historic talks in Abidjan

Friday, December 1, 2017

President Jacob Zuma has held a historic bilateral meeting with King Mohammed VI of Morocco on the sidelines of the 5th Joint AU-EU Summit underway in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.

During the meeting on Thursday, the two Heads of State agreed to work together for a promising future, especially as South Africa and Morocco are two important poles of political stability and economic development, respectively in the extreme north and the extreme south of the continent.

They also agreed to maintain direct contact and to launch a fruitful economic and political partnership in order to build strong, lasting and stable relations, and to go beyond the situation that had characterised bilateral relations for decades.

In this regard, President Zuma and King Mohammed have decided to raise the level of diplomatic representation through the appointment of high level ambassadors in Rabat and in Pretoria.

President Zuma also reaffirmed South Africa's unwavering support for the Saharawi people's struggle for independence.

Western Sahara is Africa’s longest-running territorial dispute and an issue of continental and international law and diplomatic controversy, having been on the decolonisation agenda of the United Nations (UN) and African Union (AU) for more than 50 years.

Morocco contends that the Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, is an integral part of its kingdom. On the other side, the Polisario Front, which is campaigning for the territory’s independence, demands a referendum on self-determination.

The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) is a full member of the AU, while Morocco withdrew from the AU, then the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), in protest at the SADR’s inclusion. Morocco was only re-admitted as a member of the AU this year.

Throughout the years, Pretoria has maintained the same position on the right to self-determination for the Saharawi people, as enshrined in the UN Charter and the AU Constitutive Act.

During the meeting, President Zuma and King Mohammed agreed that there should be continuous engagement on this matter.

The move to rebuild relations is part of Morocco's new policy of opening up to other African nations since its decision to re-join the African Union after 33 years of absence. –

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