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Morocco-Polisario Front : Behind the scenes of the latest clash at the African Union

Earlier this week, reports suggested that members of the Polisario Front and a Moroccan delegation at the African Union clashed at the Pan-African Parliament in Midrand (South Africa). Noureddine Karbal, PJD MP and a member of the Moroccan delegation that took part to the meeting spoke to Yabiladi about the underlying reasons behind this clash.

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The pan-African Parliament./ Ph. DR

A video was shared on social media showing you protesting against the Polisario Front at the Pan-African Parliament in South Africa. What happened on that day ?

With the presence of the Polisario, it is quite common that this kind of clashes occur. We were attending a meeting in South Africa, known for its hostile positions towards Morocco. Algerian representatives were also there.

Even when Moroccan representatives refuse to have an altercation, they could not sit idly by, faced with the usual «speech» of the Polisario representatives who keep repeating that the Sahara is «Africa’s last colony». We therefore, tried to clarify things and give more details to those present at the Pan-African Parliament, about the conflict, especially after the Front’s representatives invited other delegations to support them.

What triggered this clash, especially as the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security is no longer allowed to address the Sahara issue ?

The meeting was focused on refugees and the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui was there. He started his speech, talking about Africa in a general way, but then one of the people representing the Front asked him to comment on the Sahara and the AU plans regarding the conflict.

Chergui responded, recalling the resolution issued at the Nouakchott AU summit, while stressing that he hoped Sahrawis would reach self-determination. We asked to reply to that, but the meeting’s chairman, who is from Namibia, denied it. So, we had to protest against this decision.

How did you react to this situation ?

We recalled that the AU took a decision at the Nouakchott Summit, urging the Peace and Security Council to stop addressing the Sahara issue. We also stressed that Morocco has rejoined the organization for the development of the continent, referring to the two last agreements signed between Morocco and the European Union and which include the Sahara.

We have urged those attending the meeting to take into account the Moroccan proposal, the autonomy plan. We were disappointed because our intervention was not translated into other languages.

Smail Chergui ended up leaving the room. He was supposed to attend another meeting the next day but he did not show up. He told someone that he will not participate to the meeting as long as a Moroccan delegation is present.

At the meeting, we felt that the president was not being democratic and does not deserve to lead an AU meeting. At the end of the meeting, we wrote a letter denouncing these incidents. The Pan-African Parliament promised to investigate these facts.

How do you evaluate the participation of Morocco in this meeting ?

We have been able to highlight the fact that Sahrawis in Tindouf are not displaced but they sequestrated and held against their will on the Algerian soil.

In our final communiqué, we mentioned that the Pan-African Parliament has requested that all refugees on the continent must be subject to a census. Moreover, during the meeting, the representative of the High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) recalled that in the Tindouf camps, the UN body's representatives are prohibited from proceeding with the census of the population.

Overall, our participation remains positive. African elected officials, even those from countries hostile to Morocco, have expressed their willingness to travel to the Sahara to have an alternative view compared to the one conveyed by the Polisario and Algeria.

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