OPINION: The Sahara issue is not a mere item on the agenda of the UN Security Council but rather represents a historical injustice done to Morocco in the recovery of its territorial integrity. It is indeed a matter linked to the dignity and sovereignty of the Moroccan people, writes Youssef Amrani.
Morocco celebrates today the anniversary of the Green March, as key and fundamental moment in its struggle for freedom and continuous fight against colonialism and apartheid.
That kingdom has displayed this commitment on so many occasions over the span of its history by always putting coherence, justice and solidarity at the core of its identity.
The Green March is itself a unique reflection of Morocco’s belief, love and attachment for peace and solidarity.
On this historic day, November 6, 1975, under the leadership of the late King Hassan II, more than 350 000 Moroccans took part in the iconic and peaceful protest against the Spanish occupation of Morocco’s southern provinces.
Today, 46 years after this auspicious event, the spirit of the march has never faded as it continuous to shape the very nature of Morocco’s present and future. It is indeed one philosophy that animates one nation around one country.
This glorious event was a show of commitment by the Moroccan people as whole to Morocco’s sovereignty over the then Spanish-occupied territories. As such it translates deeply the brotherhood that unites our nation way beyond any other consideration.
Over years Moroccans steadfastly uphold the sacredness and the indivisibility of the Kingdom’s territorial integrity, with a firm and unyielding dedication.
His Majesty King Mohammed VI called on Moroccans to equip themselves with “clarity” and “far-sightedness” regarding present and future challenges.
The Sovereign stated that “Today, we are linking the past with the present, and we continue to safeguard the territorial integrity of our country with the same clarity, ambition, responsibility and committed action, both domestically and at the United Nations”.
Morocco’s sovereignty over its Sahara is that of a historical fact, a legal legitimacy and a nation’s will fully reflected by Morocco in all its human, social, political, cultural, religious and economic components
Today, the achievements in the development of Morocco’s southern provinces are considered by many as extraordinary. Morocco deployed all the means available to raise these provinces from an abandoned region during the Spanish occupation, to above the national level currently.
From a desert-like region without any infrastructure, without health care nor education, Moroccan hard work has enabled the development of its southern provinces which now have roads and highways, airports, ports, cities, health services, schools, water desalination plants, electric networks.
The Southern Provinces have now become a hub for investments and trade. New resources have been made to shine including fishery resources, renewable energy and tourism.
The economic development of the southern provinces is a reality that has been possible thanks to the political will and the mobilization of the entire Moroccan society as a whole.
As we celebrate today the Green March we also celebrate the significant achievements made by Morocco to develop its southern provinces.
The Moroccan political system is an original model, the result of a thousand-year-old history and a process of constant evolution. Morocco, as a nation, has existed for more than 12 centuries; The secret of this exceptional longevity is the stability and continuity ensured by the existence of a central state in symbiosis with the multiple components of the Moroccan identity.
King Hassan II’s call to action
The late King Hassan II wrote in his book, “Memory of a King” that an idea pierced my mind like a spear; I saw thousands of citizens demonstrating in the big cities in order to demand the restoration of the Moroccan Sahara. Thus, I said why don’t we mobilise thousands of Moroccans in a peaceful march into the Southern province!’’.
On October 16, 1975, the late King Hassan II delivered an unprecedented call to action to the Moroccan public on national TV and radio stations, officially launching the Green March.
“We have to do one thing dear people and that is to undertake a peaceful march from the north, the east, the west to the south. It behoves us to act as one man in order to join the Sahara.”
350,000 Moroccans marched into the Sahara on November 6, 1975, holding Moroccan flags, pictures of King Hassan II, green banners, and the Holy Book Quran.
The Green March took its name from the colour of Islam, a key influence and power behind the Moroccan movement. Brandishing Qurans, the Moroccan demonstrators were reminded of their King’s role as Commander of the Faithful. The mass march symbolised Morocco’s unrelenting commitment to freedom, and solidarity.
After nearly a century of occupation, Spain at that time finally bowed to regional and international pressure. On November 14, 1975, Spain signed the Madrid Accords and agreed to leave the territory by May 23.
It is in this spirit that Morocco has always sought to resolve its disputes, through negotiations and always referring to the United Nations as a means to peaceful resolve matters.
One has to understand that for Morocco, the Sahara issue is not a mere item on the agenda of the UN Security Council but rather represents a historical injustice done to Morocco in the recovery of its territorial integrity. It is indeed a matter linked to the dignity and sovereignty of the Moroccan people.
* Youssef Amrani Ambassador of the kingdom of Morocco to South Africa.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL and Independent Media.