Stop ”peace forum” in occupied territory, writes Peter Kenworthy, Africa Contact

Peter Kenworthy, Africa Contact
Peter Kenworthy, Africa Contact

Africa Contact urges Crabs Montana Forum to move its forum in March from Africa’s last colony, Moroccan occupied Western Sahara. Other organisations deploring the holding of the forum in an occupied territory include the African Union and Western Saharas exile government.

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Crans Montana Forum is an international organization that invites ministers and civil servants from all over the world to its annual forum. According to the organisation’s website, the goal of the forum is to work for international peace, stability and global dialogue.

Occupied city “a model” for Africa

The forum, which will be held in Dakhla in Western Sahara, will be “an opportunity to promote peace and dialogue” the founder of Crans Montana Forum Jean-Paul Carteron told the Moroccan press agency MAP. According to Carteron, Dakhla is “a model for the future of Morocco and Africa”.

When Crans Montana Forum held its forum in the Moroccan capital Rabat last year, Carteron called the Moroccan king a “visionary king” and Morocco “a great country showing the way in a tormented region”.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other human rights organisations often report on illegal Morrocan expropriation of Western Saharan resources, discrimination of the indigenous Saharawis, and brutal torture of those who advocate and fight for independence from Morocco.

In Amnesty International’s new Stop Torture campaign, Morocco is classed as one of the world’s five worst torturing nations.

African Union condemns Morocco

In a declaration published last week, the African Union condemned Crans Montana Forum’s decision to hold its annual forum in Dakhla as being “a grave violation of the international law” and “in contradiction with the efforts made by the international community to resolve the conflict in Westerns Sahara”.

In his acceptance speech, the new chairman of the African Union, Robert Mugabe, stated that “the continent [Africa] is not completely free. As long as our brothers and sisters in Western Sahara remain under Moroccan occupation, we are not totally free”.

Saharawis condemns forum

The Saharawi liberation movement Polisario acknowledged the African Union’s criticism of Crans Montana Forum.

“The strong declaration of the African Union, and the firm stand against Crans Montana Forum, is a fierce slap in the face of the Moroccan illegal occupation of Western Sahara”, said Polisario representative to Denmark, Abba Malainin.

And the Saharawi exile government, the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), urged Crans Montana Forum to move the seminar elsewhere.

“Western Sahara forms part of an occupied territory that was violently overrun and unjustly annexed by Morocco in 1975. Its people, whose ultimate wish is the fundamental, internationally mandated human right of self-determination, have been egregiously repressed and oppressed”, SADR Minister for Europe Mohamed Sidati wrote in a letter to Jean-Paul Carteron.

“Holding the 2015 Crans Montana Forum on Africa in Dakhla is an affront to international law, to the international community and to the Saharawi people”, Sidati concluded.

SADR Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, added in a statement that the holding of the forum in Dakhla would also be “in contradiction with the objectives of the [Crans Montana Forum] organisation” and will help to “legitimize [Morocco’s] illegal occupation of Western Sahara”.

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