Africa: AU Sides With Western Sahara On Autonomy Despite U.S. Decision

The African Union has maintained that the fate of Western Sahara must be decided by a referendum, even after the the US endorsed Morocco’s control over the breakaway region.

Ebba Kalondo, spokesperson of AU Commission chair Moussa Faki Mahamat, says the AU supports the self-determination of Western Sahara through a free and fair referendum as decided by the UN Security Council.

“The position of the African Union remains unchanged, in conformity with relevant AU and United Nations resolutions,” Ms Kalondo wrote on Twitter on Friday.

Both Western Sahara and Morocco are members of the AU although Morocco sees Western Sahara as part of its territory.

In 1982, Morocco quit the AU in protest after the then Organisation of African Unity (the precursor to the AU) admitted the proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as a member.

Morocco returned to the AU in 2017 after failing its bid to enter the European Union.

Israel relations

On Friday, Washington announced that Morocco should be the definitive government over Western Sahara.

This came after Morocco re-established relations with Israel, becoming the fifth member of the Arab League to do so in under three months.

The Polisario Front, which runs the government of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, which controls about a fifth of Western Sahara, has often operated from refugee camps in Algeria.

The entire Western Sahara region was initially a Spanish colony but was annexed by Morocco in 1975.