SA notes extension for Western Sahara referendum resolution

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The South African government has noted the United Nations Security Council’s adoption of the resolution to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for the next six months.

The resolution is effective from 1 November 2018.

“While we note this resolution by the UNSC, we remain concerned that it has taken years for the Saharawi people to attain their independence. We are also reminded that the UN Mission was created to oversee a referendum on self-determination, which is yet to take place.

“We continue to affirm our solidarity and support for the just struggle of the people of Western Sahara for self-determination and independence,” said International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.

Sisulu was hopeful that the resolution would resuscitate negotiations in Geneva led by the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General, Horst Köhler. The negotiations, she said, would be based on the “long-standing parameters of negotiations that would provide for right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara”.

In a statement, the UN said the 15-member Council expressed “full support” for the Secretary-General’s plan to initiate renewed negotiations before the end of 2018 and urged all parties to resume dialogue, in good faith, towards a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self determination of the people of Western Sahara.

Twelve Security Council members supported the extension while three members abstained.

South Africa has long called for decisive steps that would see Western Sahara obtain independence, saying this would bring a close the chapter on the last vestige of occupation and colonialism on the African continent. 

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. –