Seixal, 19 November 2023 (SPS) – The Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, Xanana Gusmão, called for the application of international law to counter Moroccan expansionist ambitions in Western Sahara, through the holding of a referendum on self-determination to enable the Sahrawi people to exercise their inalienable right to independence. He stressed that the international community’s inaction is a “disgrace to the principles and values that the world cherishes.”
During the events of the international conference held near the Portuguese capital in Seixal, on “Western Sahara and Timor-Leste: A Struggle for Self-Determination and Independence,” Xanana Gusmão renewed his country’s solidarity and support for the Sahrawi people in their just struggle for freedom and independence.
Mr. Gusmão considered the international conference “a commendable act of solidarity and support for the liberation of Western Sahara,” noting that “few people like the Timorese people understand the magnitude of the suffering and oppression faced by peoples struggling for freedom in the face of the indifference of the great powers.”
In this regard, he said that the Sahrawi people undergo double suffering because they are deprived of their sovereignty and because they are forgotten by the international community, just as the Timorese people also suffered from the indifference of the international community and the great powers.
He stressed that his country, which has made enormous sacrifices for decades, remains confident that the unity of the Sahrawi people, their courage, and their ability to resist will lead to a solution that guarantees self-determination, pointing out that the Polisario Front, as the sole legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people, “serves as a tool to remind the international community continuously that compliance with the inalienable right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination is a fundamental principle enshrined in international law.”
The Timorese official expressed his regret for the international community’s abandonment of the Sahrawi people, highlighting that “its inaction in the case of Western Sahara is an insult to the principles and values that we all cherish.”
The Timorese Prime Minister again called on the international community, especially the UN Security Council, to shoulder its responsibilities in order to contribute to the restoration of international law on which international legitimacy is based, expressing his solidarity and support for the Sahrawi people in their just struggle for freedom, independence, and peace.
In conclusion, Xanana Gusmão expressed his conviction that, as happened in Timor-Leste, international law cannot be marginalized and that it is imperative to confront Moroccan ambitions, especially through the holding of a referendum on self-determination in Western Sahara under the auspices of the United Nations to resolve this issue peacefully.
For his part, the representative of the Polisario Front to the United Nations and coordinator with the United Nations Mission for the Organization of a Referendum on Self-Determination in Western Sahara (MINURSO), Sidi Mohamed Omar, delivered a speech in which he discussed the course of the process of decolonization in Western Sahara.
The Sahrawi diplomat stressed that the Sahrawi people are still suffering from the multiple consequences of being deprived of their fundamental rights recognized internationally, “where the United Nations and the entire international community have the responsibility to remove this injustice by ensuring the rapid completion of the process of decolonization in Western Sahara.”
He also stressed that the Western Sahara as a decolonization issue listed on the UN agenda since 1963 is beyond dispute, “and therefore there is no alternative to the Sahrawi people exercising their inalienable right to self-determination and independence through a free and democratic referendum.”