The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Solidarity Conference with the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic kicked off on 25th March, 2019 in Pretoria, South Africa with a call for unity to ensure the right to freedom and self-determination of the people of the Western Sahara.
Opening the meeting of Ministers from the SADC Region, representatives from other countries outside the SADC region, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and liberation political parties, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of Namibia and Chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers, Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah highlighted the importance of solidarity.
“Independence is what Saharawi has been crying for. The impact of solidarity can never be emphasised,” said Hon. Nandi-Ndaitwah and added that international solidarity helped in the liberation of many southern Africa states.
In her welcome remarks, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for the Republic of South Africa, Hon Lindiwe Sisulu said she was pleased that the SADC Solidarity Conference with Saharawi Democratic Arab Republic is taking in Southern Africa, the most recently decolonised on the continent.
“This serves to remind us that until the last colony, the Saharawi Republic is decolonised, none of us are truly free," said Hon. Sisulu, adding that, SADC hopes to come up with concrete steps to strengthen and support the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination.
The Minister said this kind of solidarity and support for the people of Western Sahara give courage and impetus to their struggle for self-determination. She said time has come to allow the People of Western Sahara to exercise their legitimate right to self-determination through a referendum.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Western Sahara Arab Democratic Republic, Hon. Mohammed Salem Salek, commended SADC for convening the conference and said the people of Western Sahara greatly appreciate the decision of SADC to organise the conference.
During the conference, Former President of Nigeria, His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo led discussions on the role of the International Community in ensuring the implementation of all UN Resolutions and AU Decisions on Western Sahara, including strengthening measures against the exploitation of the natural resources of Western Sahara. Hon Simbalashe Mumbengegwi, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Zimbabwe led discussion that focused on strengthening of international solidarity with the people of Western Sahara to ensure their right to self-determination
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