Conference on Western Sahara at the University of Pretoria – South Africa

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PUSL.- On 9 May, the Institute of Strategic and Political Affairs of the University of Pretoria, Africa Solidarity for the Sahrawi (ASS), (PUSL) and Sandblast-Arts hosted a conference on Western Sahara and recent developments at the political level and reality on the ground.

Prof. Siphmandla Zondi head of the Department of Political Sciences, University of Pretoria, made the introduction to the conference and Mr. Gallous of ASS spoke of the recent developments and the historical and political context of the Western Sahara conflict.

Mrs. Isabel Lourenço, from PUSL and researcher at the Center for African Studies at the University of Porto, who recently published a report on the situation of Saharawi children and young people under occupation in Western Sahara, presented not only this report but also made an account of the day to day, the difficulties and the repression that affects the whole population under Moroccan occupation. The role of MINURSO and the absence of a human rights component in its mandate, as well as the role of the African Union and the Saharawi political prisoners were other issues addressed.

Participants at this conference included Professors from the University of Pretoria, representatives of Embassies, PhD and Masters students and members of the Center for Human Rights of the University.

In the question-and-answer period the participants expressed great interest in the role of MINURSO, the independence of the judiciary, the trials of Saharawi political prisoners and the role of the Saharawi community in the diaspora.

This conference took place only one day after the national elections in South Africa, which has a decisive role in the United Nations so that the issue of Western Sahara is not forgotten and can come to a conclusion.

In April the SADC (Southern African Development Community) International Conference of Solidarity with the Saharawi People and their right to self-determination, organized by the South African Government, was attended by dozens of representatives of African States at the highest level as well as of human rights organizations and activists and has shown the real commitment of the SADC countries in the final decolonization of the African Continent.