Algerian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Attaf, stated on Tuesday that “Africa cannot completely turn the final page of its colonial history without enabling the Sahrawi people to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination.”
During his address commemorating Africa Day, which marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (currently the African Union), the Minister clarified, “Today, we celebrate our collective achievements in promoting peace, security and enhancing economic integration within the framework of activating the African Continental Free Trade Area, which is the focal point of the current African Union session.”
The Minister emphasised, “It is incumbent upon us, on this occasion, not to forget our sisters and brothers in the last African colony, specifically in Western Sahara, who await our support and solidarity to exercise their inalienable and non-negotiable right to self-determination.” According to him, this allows Africa to “completely turn the final page of its abhorrent colonial history, heinous occupation and shameful exploitation of its resources.”
Attaf further pointed out that “the Sahrawi people, eager for liberation and emancipation, like other African nations that have achieved their freedom and independence, seek our assistance, and it is not our prerogative to ignore them.” He highlighted that they are people demanding justice, and it is not our right to deny them justice. They are a people seeking a helping hand to alleviate oppression, tyranny and domination, and it is not our place to abstain from that duty.”
It is well-known that Algeria, while supporting the right to self-determination by United Nations resolutions, strongly rejects Morocco’s “autonomy plan” as a solution to the conflict in Western Sahara. It views this plan, as its ambassador to the United Nations previously stated, as “granting legitimacy by the international community to the occupation, annexation of the territory and forceful control over its people.”
On another note, Attaf addressed the sensitivity of the situation in Sudan, emphasising the importance of not overlooking the suffering of the Sudanese people due to the ongoing crisis in the country for over a month. This crisis has led to the loss of hundreds of innocent lives, the displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians and the looming threat of an imminent humanitarian catastrophe. Furthermore, there are indications of another potential division of Sudan on the dark horizon.
The Minister reiterated Algeria’s call for all international and regional actors to intensify their efforts and coordinate their endeavours to “extricate our Sudanese brethren from the whirlpool of violence, division and internal strife that have afflicted and plagued them.”
Algeria annually celebrates “International Africa Day” since the signing of the founding Charter of the Organisation of African Unity in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 25 May, 1963. This organisation transformed into the African Union in 2002. The current celebrations of the 55 member states of the African Union for “Africa Day” this year revolve around the theme “Africa, Our Future”.