The South African government on Thursday reiterated support for self-determination and independence of Western Sahara.
“We continue to affirm our solidarity and support for the just struggle of the people of Western Sahara for self-determination and independence,” said Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu.
She was speaking after the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2440 which extends the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for the next six months, effective from Thursday.
The UN mission was created to oversee a referendum on self-determination of Western Sahara, which is yet to take place.
“While we note this resolution by the UNSC, we remain concerned that it has taken years for the Saharawi people to attain their independence,” Sisulu said.
She expressed hope that the resolution will resuscitate negotiations in Geneva led by the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General, Horst Kohler, based on the long-standing parameters of negotiations that would provide for right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.
Western Sahara was partitioned between Morocco and Mauritania at the end of Spain’s colonial rule in 1976.
When Mauritania, under pressure from Polisario guerrillas, abandoned all claims to its portion in August 1979, Morocco moved to occupy that sector and asserted administrative control over the whole territory.
Fighting broke out between Morocco and the pro-independence Polisario Front.
A cease-fire was signed in 1991.
The UN mission was deployed that year to monitor the cease-fire and to organise, if possible, a referendum on self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.