- The Australian Senate yesterday adopted a motion calling on the government to recognise the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic. Australia should follow the example of South Africa, the upper house of the Australian parliament said.
The Senate had taken note that South Africa on 15 September extended full recognition and established diplomatic relations with the Saharawi Republic. Further, the Saharawi Republic was "a fully-fledged member of the African Union recognised by over 70 countries worldwide," the Senate motion said.
Therefore, the Australian upper house "urges the government to positively consider extending diplomatic recognition to the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic at the appropriate time."
The government was further urged to extend full support to the organisation of a free, fair and transparent referendum of self-determination for the people of Western Sahara and to "use its best efforts to persuade Morocco to accept the latest UN peace plan that is based on the organisation of a referendum of self-determination in Western Sahara."
If the government of Australia decides to recognise the Saharawi Republic, it would become the first main Western non-African country in doing so. So far, the countries recognising the Saharawi Republic are mostly African, Latin American and to a lesser degree Asian. No European or North American country recognises the Saharawi Republic.
South Africa's recognition of the Saharawi Republic in September was a major diplomatic blow to the government of Morocco. South Africa made this move after considering that Morocco now was totally lacking a will to find a solution to the age-old conflict over Western Sahara.
Morocco has occupied Western Sahara since the Spanish colonialists withdrew from the territory in the mid-1970s. The occupation has been termed illegal by the UN and no country has ever recognised Morocco's claims to the territory.
The Saharawi pro-independence movement Polisario has established an exiled government in the refugee camps of western Algeria, housing the majority of the Saharawi people since the Moroccan invasion. The Saharawi government also controls a so-called "liberated territory" along the Algerian and Mauritanian border, which however is depopulated due to Moroccan warfare.
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