OP-EDs

OP-ED: LESOTHO COMMITS TO STAY NEUTRAL ON THE WESTERN SAHARA DISPUTE

By Lesego Makgothi

As part of my working visit to Morocco, I had a friendly, yet frank, sincere and fruitful meeting today in Rabat with His Excellency Mr. Nasser Bourita, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, His Excellency Mr. Habib El Malki:

This visit occurs at an important momentum in our bilateral relations, as the Government of the kingdom of Lesotho, has a strong determination to develop and strengthen its bilateral relations with the kingdom of Morocco in various fields of cooperation such as:

I. Agriculture

II. Education

III. Water

IV. Health

V. Diplomatic Training

VI. Military cooperation.

All these are in the stage of finalization and will be signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations of the Kingdom of Lesotho here in Rabat soon.

Our dialogue also allowed us to get a deeper understanding of the issue of Western Sahara. We conducted a thorough evaluation of the effectiveness of the kingdom of Lesotho’s position concerning this regional dispute.

This evaluation of promoting a just and peaceful solution of this regional conflict will best be served by a ‘Neutral’ yet strong support of the Kingdom of Lesotho to the ongoing UN-led process under the guidance of the United Nations Secretary General and supervision of the United Nations (UN) Security Council.

The Kingdom of Lesotho has consequently announced, through a Note Verbale dated on October 4th, 2019, its sovereign decision to suspend all its decisions and statements related to Western Sahara and “SADR”, pending the outcome of the United Nations process.

I regret that this national position has been subjected to some misunderstandings.

I am here today to confirm and clarify my country’s position, which is:

  • a commitment to suspend all previous decisions and statements related to Western Sahara and “SADR”, pending the outcome of the United Nations process.
  • a commitment to neutrality on the western Sahara dispute. This position will be observed in regional, sub-regional and international meetings.
  • a commitment to actively support the political process led by the United Nations as the multilateral framework to find a realistic, practicable and enduring political solution to the question of Western Sahara
  • and a commitment from the Kingdom of Lesotho to work, with the kingdom of Morocco to develop and strengthen bilateral cooperation on multiple sectors for the shared benefits of our two sisterly countries.

The Kingdom of Lesotho has always remained committed to its partners.
The Kingdom of Lesotho will remain committed to the Kingdom of Morocco to its new and yet very promising, partnership.

This new position will be communicated to SADC and African Union, and will act accordingly in regional and international fora.

Any different statement or document, be it before or after this official position, will be void and have no value.

The Kingdom of Lesotho expresses its sincere wish that its neutral position on the Sahara issue will give a strong signal to all parties that the kingdom of Lesotho stands alongside the International Community in their efforts to achieve a realistic, practicable and enduring political solution to this regional conflict.
Further, the two kingdoms have agreed to explore means of opening embassies in respective countries soon. NW

Lesego Makgothi is the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations of the Kingdom of Lesotho. This is the speech he delivered while in Morocco on Tuesday.

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