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AU Executive Council wants to send a human rights mission to the Sahara

The Executive Council of the African Union adopted, Saturday, a decision urging the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to visit the Sahara. The decision comes ahead of an African Union troika meeting on the Western Sahara conflict.

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The 12th AU extraordinary summit held in Niamy, Niger. / Ph. DR

The Western Sahara conflict was at the heart of meetings held in Niamey, Niger, ahead of the 12th African Union Extraordinary Summit, opened Sunday. On Saturday, the Executive Council of the continental organization, made up of Foreign ministers of member states, held a meeting dedicated to the territorial conflict.

During the meeting organized on the sidelines of the 35th AU Extraordinary Council, the African Union Executive Council approved a decision related to human rights monitoring in the Sahara.

According to the Polisario Front’s news agency, SPS, the Council urged the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, a quasi-judicial body tasked with promoting and protecting human rights and collective rights throughout the African continent, to visit the Sahara.

Sending a human rights mission to the Sahara

Referring to the meeting, attended by Morocco's deputy minister in charge of African cooperation Mohcine Jazouli, Moroccan media reported that the decision adopted by the AU Executive Council has taken into consideration the standpoint of Morocco and terms set by it.

However, the Polisario Front couldn't hide its excitement regarding the AU Executive Council's recent decision. The head of the «Sahrawi Human Rights Committee» Abba Al Hussein commended the potential visit, stressing that it reflects the «African Union’s wish to carry on with its previous decisions» on the territorial dispute.

In addition to the AU Executive Council’s meeting on Western Sahara, a second one was held Friday in Niamey, bringing together the «troika» made up of Rwanda, Egypt and South Africa. According to Egyptian newspaper Fe Hob Masr, the country’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Choukri chaired the troika meeting, attended only by Foreign Affairs ministers.

The African Union's Troika and Western Sahara

The same source reveals that the meeting discussed the recent developments of the Western Sahara issue and voiced the organization’s backing of the «UN’s political process». Moreover, the meeting commended the efforts made by the United Nations and highlighted the importance of fully implementing the UN Security Council’s resolutions.

A similar meeting to the one held Friday, would have taken place Monday, during the 12th AU Extraordinary Summit. According to the draft program of events during the period of the 12th extraordinary session of the assembly of the union, published by the African Union, a troika meeting would have been held today at 9 am in Niamey.

The troika meeting comes after the decision taken during the 31st AU summit, held in Nouakchott. During this summit, AU leaders «curtailed» the Peace and Security Council’s work on the Western Sahara dispute and assigned a troika of heads of state to report directly to AU assembly.

These recent developments contradict Morocco’s policy within the African Union. The Kingdom has announced several times that it refuses to let the continental organization deal with the Western Sahara conflict, stressing that the UN is the only body entitled to lead the political process of the conflict.

Yabiladi couldn’t reach the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for comment.

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