People take part in a parade of folklore and traditional African costumes, in Dakhla, Western Sahara. Picture: Aissa/Xinhua
The right of self-determination of the Saharawis and the Palestinians was high on the agenda of discussions between Minister for International Relations Lindiwe Sisulu and Algerian Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel in Algiers this week.

“The inalienable right to self-determination of the Saharawi people and decolonisation of Western Sahara must be marked by the rapid resolution of this conflict within the framework of international legality,” a joint communiqué read.

South Africa and Algeria hold the view that with Morocco’s admission into the AU, it has an obligation to adhere to the principles and goals enshrined in the AU Constitutive Act, especially the need to respect colonial borders as they existed at the time of independence.

Both countries have called on Morocco and Western Sahara to engage without preconditions in direct and serious talks to put an end to their conflict.

The ministers expressed their full support and confidence in the efforts of the AU Special Envoy for Western Sahara, former president Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, and praised the new dynamic initiated by the Special Envoy of the Secretary General of the UN, Horst Kohler.

The UN Special Envoy is encouraging the Polisario Front and the Kingdom of Morocco to continue direct negotiations in good faith and without preconditions, and is seeking to mobilise the international community to implement all UN Resolutions on Western Sahara.

The issue of support for the self-determination of Western Sahara will be taken forward when South Africa and Algeria launch their Strategic Dialogue in the near future.

Self-determination for the Palestinians has also been high on the agenda of Algeria and South Africa, and Sisulu and Messahel expressed concern about the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

“The resolution of the Palestinian question remains the cornerstone for sustainable peace and security in the Middle East,” the communiqué read.

The ministers reiterated their concern about the continued implementation of Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territories.

As the ministers have previously expressed in numerous multilateral forums, they reaffirmed their support to a just and lasting solution to the Palestinian question, and reiterated the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

* Ebrahim is Independent Media's group foreign editor.

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