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Lesotho Kingdom maintains support to Saharawi rights and denies alleged change of position

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Maseru (Kngdom of Lesotho) 03 June 2020 (SPS)- The Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho reiterated in an official statement by its Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Relations, the Hon 'Matšepo Ramakoae, “principled position on Western Sahara”, denying previous unilateral misrepresentations of that position last year.
In a filmed statement published yesterday by Lesotho Ministry of Foreign Affairs on its official page on Facebook, the Minister stressed that “the Kingdom of Lesotho and Western Sahara maintain a cordial bilateral relations, and successive governments of Lesotho have maintained their support to Western Sahara, these relations have been maintained throughout the years and they continue to grow stronger.”
The statement recalled that a previous note sent by the Ministry on the 4th of October 2019 to the Kingdom of Morocco purportedly “signaled change of position by Lesotho government on the issue of Western Sahara”.
“This move was widely construed as withdrawal of the support to the Polisario Front by the Lesotho Government as well as turning a blind eye to the continued suffering of the Saharawi Arab people whose land has been under occupation by foreign power for decades now”, the Minister added, confirming that the “move correctly attracted a lot of uproar and criticism from the international community, including SADC and ordinary Basotho.”
Lesotho Foreign Policy, the statement adds, is premised upon strong principles, mainly “sovereign equality of all states; Peaceful settlement of disputes, nonuse or threat of use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state and the right to self-determination.”
“It is regrettable that Western Sahara remains the only colony on the Continent of Africa contrary to the principle of United Nation’s Charter”, the Minister said, considering that “the issue of Western Sahara is a question of decolonization which remains to be completed on the basis of the exercise by the Saharawi People of their inalienable rights to self-determination and independence.”
In this regards, “the Government of Lesotho underscores the need for creating conditions that would allow the holding of a peaceful and fair referendum for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara” and “pronounces Lesotho's support for a peaceful negotiation aimed at holding the referendum.”
The Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho further indicated that it “will shortly dispatch a special envoy to Western Sahara, the SADC Chair, and AU Chair to dispel these misrepresentations and distortions regarding the Lesotho position on Western Sahara and to reiterate Lesotho's principled position on Western Sahara.”
With respect to the right to Self-Determination “the Kingdom of Lesotho calls for the legitimate right to self-determination of those countries and nations that still do not enjoy self-determination in accordance with the United Nations' principles and resolutions.”
Furthermore, the foreign policy in Lesotho's case “is adopted at the Cabinet level, and consequently modifications in thereto must be sanctioned by a Cabinet as a collective. On the basis of our foreign policy which has remained virtually the same since obtaining independence Lesotho has maintained her principled position to support the struggle for the people of Western Sahara”, Ms 'Matšepo Ramakoae said.
Indeed, She adds, “Lesotho exists as a country today because of solidarity with others, and her independence and sovereignty shall to a large extend continue to depend on solidarity with other states.”
The statement also recalled that SADC organized a Solidarity Conference on Western Sahara early in 2019 in the Republic of South Africa, and the decision of that conference were endorsed by the SADC summit that was held in the Republic of Tanzania in August 2019.
Lesotho participated in both summits at the highest level, the statement concludes, and “thus the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho will continue to maintain her principled position on Western Sahara and reiterates her support to the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic as an independent African Country coexisting side by side with the Kingdom of Morocco in peace and security.” (SPS)
090/500/60 (SPS)