MAP - Monday, April 15th 2019

FM Calls on South Africa to Work with Morocco for Emergence of Inter-African Cooperation New Model

Johannesburg - Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita urged, on Sunday, South Africa to work with Morocco for the emergence of a new model for inter-African cooperation.

"Instead of prolonging a deadlock, Morocco and South Africa must work together to develop a model for inter-African cooperation and South-South cooperation," Bourita told South African weekly "The Sunday Times".

Morocco and South Africa, which are two important economies in Africa, are two platforms to enter the continent, he said, noting that Rabat and Pretoria are called upon to join hands to help Africa move towards the continent's economic emergence.

Among the main areas of cooperation for the two countries, the minister gave the example of the African Free Trade Area and air transportation.

Bourita emphasized the support given by Morocco for the fight of the South African people against the apartheid regime, recalling that South African leader Nelson Mandela was welcomed in the Kingdom in 1960s.

The Foreign Minister stressed that Morocco and South Africa, given their geographical locations, should not have bilateral problems.

"We do not share the same borders, we do not have territorial problems," he said, adding that the problems that disrupt relations between the two countries can be explained by Pretoria's decision to take a stand on an issue that concerns a region located hundreds of kilometers away, a position that runs counter those of the United Nations and the African Union.

Bourita regretted the decision of South Africa to host, on March 25-26 at the headquarters of its Ministry of International Relations, a conference in support of polisario separatists.

This conference, organized at the initiative of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), was against the UN process aimed at finding a solution to the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara, he said, stressing that South Africa, as a member of the international community, must help with the necessary neutrality.

"Normally, if you are a country that works within the framework of the international community, you should help without bias or siding with a party," he said.

"South Africa has chosen another way," said Bourita, underlining that the parameters of a solution to the conflict over the territorial integrity of Morocco are clearly defined in the UN framework, which calls for a realistic, pragmatic, durable solution that is based on compromise.

The minister stressed that the Sahara issue should not be compared to the situation in the Middle East. "In Palestine, the UN has adopted a resolution calling for a two-state solution. Regarding the Sahara, there is a political process to find a settlement with Algeria, he said.

Recalling that Israel's presence in the Palestinian territories is globally recognized as an occupation, Bourita challenged "our brothers in South Africa to find a single UN resolution that describes the presence of Morocco in the Sahara as an occupation."

If South Africa wants to play an honest role, it must recognize these two different positions, Bourita said.

Referring to the African Ministerial Conference on AU Support for the UN Political Process on the Regional Dispute over the Moroccan Sahara, recently held in Marrakesh, Bourita stressed that this event was intended to show that African countries back the position of Morocco and that the Pretoria conference should not be considered as a reference to the African position.

The Marrakesh conference also showed that the Pretoria meeting was a means to divide Africa, said the minister, recalling the consensus reached at the 31st AU summit, held in Nouakchott, in favor of the UN exclusivity over the Sahara issue and the support that the AU must bring to the UN process.

Who divides Africa? Who decided that those who oppose Morocco should meet? the minister wondered, stressing that "our message was that unity was in Marrakesh and division was in Pretoria."

The Sunday Times commented, in this context, that Morocco's efforts have been successful given that the Marrakesh conference was marked by the participation of 37 African countries against only 24 announced at the Pretoria conference, including countries such as Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.