On February 19, 2016, President Edgar Lungu of Zambia decided to ‘recognize’ Western Sahara and accused Morocco of colonizing another African country.
“I wish to assure you of our relentless collective calls for the independence of the people of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic,” Lungu told Salam El-Mami, Western Sahara’s ambassador to Zambia.
In December 2016, the King of Morocco abruptly cancelled a visit to Zambia leading to various speculations.
In January 2017 and in apparent revenge over the cancelled visit, President Lungu invited the President of the Sahrawi Republic, Brahim Ghali, to Zambia. During their meeting, Lungu told Ghali, “We are truly behind Sahrawi for the emancipation of the country and its people,” according to the Zambia Daily Mail, a government newspaper https://www.daily-mail.co.zm/?p=91816
In February 2017, however, the King of Morocco suddenly visited Zambia.
Just yesterday, (February 25, 2017) Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba said Zambia does not recognize Western Sahara anymore.
The official Moroccan media reports that Zambia has ‘reiterated’ its decision to withdraw its recognition of the self-proclaimed Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, an entity established by the Algeria-backed Polisario front in February 1976.
The announcement was made by Zambia’s Foreign Minister Harry Kalaba on Saturday.
“I reiterate my statement made on July 9, 2016 in Rabat,” Kalaba told Morocco’s official news agency Maghreb Arab Press (MAP). https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2017/02/209494/zambia-withdraws-recognition-polisarios-self-proclaimed-sadr-2/
Kalaba added that his country believes that “Morocco’s return to the African Union affords the African family an opportunity to push for this question, which has lasted for a long time, towards a peaceful solution in a spirit of African consensus, dialogue and mutual respect.”
The announcement was made less than a month after Morocco’s return to the African Union and few days following King Mohammed VI’s first official visit to Zambia.
During the visit, King Mohammed VI and Zambia’s President, Edgar Chagwa Lungu, chaired the signing of 19 partnership agreements between Morocco and Zambia.
The official position of SADC and the AU is that Western Sahara is a separate country which is illegally occupied by Morocco.
It should, however, be remembered that during the last African Union summit in Ethiopia, Lungu refrained from voting on the question of readmitting Morocco to the continental body. This is clearly because Lungu’s actions are not based on principle but bribes. If Lungu had officially voted for admitting or rejecting Morocco, he would have been in trouble with either Morocco or Western Sahara.
As you are reading this, Western Sahara diplomats are in Lusaka where they live and work.
On February 09, 2017, while in Algeria, which supports Western Sahara, Zambian minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba expressed Zambia’s wish that the Western Sahara borders are respected.
“I hope that the Western Sahara borders are respected and that Morocco keeps in mind that Western Sahara is a member State of the AU,” Kalaba told the press at the end of his meeting with Algeria’s Minister of State, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ramtane Lamamra.
He recalled that the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is a member of the AU, underlining that the continental Organization was created not only to promote trading and cooperation between the countries of the continent but also to impose the respect of the sovereignty of the member States and their borders.
Western Sahara was occupied by Morocco in 1975 after the withdrawal of Spanish troops and remains, to this day, listed by the United Nations in the chapter of territories to be decolonized, according to the rules of international laws on the subject.
In the photos: Lungu is with the King of Morocco during his February 2017 visit and President of Western Sahara during an earlier visit in January of 2017 respectively.
SOURCE: Zambian Watchdog and other Media Agencies