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Nigeria Brokers Peace Between Morocco, Saharawi Republic

Nigeria has brokered peace between Morocco and Saharawi Democratic Republic (SDR) to enable the two bodies minimise reports of human Rights abuses in the region.

Recall that Elombah.com had on 28 November, 2016, reported that President Muhammadu Buhari, same day, received Letter of Credence from Saharan Arab Democratic Republic, (SADR), also called Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, a minority ethnic group in southern Morocco.

The report stated that Sahrawi people live in the western part of the Sahara desert which includes Western Sahara with a population of about 2.7 million.

They self-declared a state claiming authority over the disputed territory of Western Sahara, which is presently occupied by Morocco. 

The independence of the SADR has been recognized at various points by some 80 countries.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, however, a number of them withdrew or suspended their recognition.

The region was a Spanish colony from c. 1884 to 1976. 

After Spain withdrew from the region in early 1976, the Polisario Front—a politico-military organization based in Algeria and composed largely of Saharawi people.

The Saharawis – indigenous nomadic inhabitants of Western Sahara—declared the independence of the republic and the establishment of a government-in-exile and fought Morocco and Mauritania for control of the territory. 

A referendum on whether the territory should remain part of Morocco or become independent has been repeatedly postponed. 

Efforts by the United Nations to resolve the conflict from its outset have been inconclusive, and the status of the region remains at an impasse.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Sunday, reported that mediation took place barely a day after Nigeria assumed the leadership of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) at the 31st Executive Council meeting of the 39th AU Summit in Addis Ababa.

NAN quoted Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, who led the peace team, as saying that Nigeria’s leadership of the PSC in peace and conflict came at the right time.

He said: “The invitation for Nigeria to mediate in the crisis with Morocco and SDR is the new confidence that the AU has in Nigeria and to call on her to play a bigger role in the organisation.

“We are going to do just that; we have this responsibility and we are going to assert it to the benefit of the continent.”

According to the report, the minister explained further that Morocco had threatened to block the work of the Executive Council meeting of the AU because the council could not arrive at an agreement on the report of an evaluation mission to the SDR.

“We could not arrive at any agreement because those who were supporting Morocco stuck to their positions and wanted to see the paragraph removed while those for SDR wanted it to stay.

“Nigeria agreed to mediate and we met with the representatives of the two countries, and we were able to find an acceptable solution and the council of ministers were very relieved.

“We were able to get them to agree to the text the council proposed to them.

“It was not easy to get both countries to agree but it is very important for the organisation because, we have to look at the bigger picture,” Onyeama said.

Meanwhile, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Acting President of Nigeria is expected to attend the 29th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU.

Onyeama said Osinbajo will address the Union mostly on the institutional reforms and the issue of financing the AU.

“We want to reform African Union and there is a proposal already on the table especially on how to finance the union.

“Nigeria is one of the key contributors to the union and of course the acting president will be engaged in the whole issues that concern ECOWAS including issues of finance and institutional reform, ‘’ he said.

However, in the Elombah.com report cited earlier, it was wondered on what platform a sitting Nigerian president will receive Letter of Credence from them considering that Saharawi is not an independent nation.

Also of more ironic significance is the fact that President Buhari, who is an avowed detractor of independence for a Sovereign State of Biafra will be encouraging secession in another country.

It could also be recalled that Buhari has, on previous occasion hosted envoys of Saharawi in the State House, Abuja.

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