Kenya's national interests should guide its stand, says former PS

Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic President Brahim Ghali arrives at Kasarani for President William Ruto's swearing-in. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Kenya has to choose what is in its best national interest, a former Foreign Affairs permanent secretary says. 

The former PS said since 1981 when the African Union (AU) controversially elevated Polisario to the same level as ANC of South Africa, Algeria has ensured the Western Sahara issue remains on the AU agenda.

“The sibling rivalry between Algeria and Morocco often veers into the ridiculous with a constant closure of borders between the two neighbours. With oil wealth, Algeria is a major contributor to the AU budget in Addis Ababa and therefore invariably sits on the top AU policy-making organs,” said the former PS who sought anonymity given that he is now retired and does not want to be involved formally.

The diplomatic conundrum is further worsened by the fact that the Arab League, a key regional organisation where the two countries are members, does not recognise Polisario or Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).

The Arab League brings together Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordon, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. 

The PS said the United Nations policy and resolutions towards Western Sahara are also at variance with the AU position, with the global body supporting a UN-supervised referendum through resolutions already domiciled at the Security Council.

He said Morocco supported the UN mechanism that recently received a boost from an endorsement by Spain, the former colonial master, and the US while the European Union and the ASEAN do not recognise the SADR.

“The league of Islamic countries does not recognise SADR or Polisario. Only the AU does. The AU position of which Algeria has been the principal advocate gets its inspiration from the AU principles on the right to self-determination and the recognition of colonial borders as inviolable as a foundation for sustainable peace across Africa,” he said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently issued a confusing statement that sought to clarify President William Ruto’s statement in reviewing Kenya’s policy on SADR following a meeting with Moroccan Foreign minister.

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