MAPUTO, Mozambique and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on political consultations between the two countries in the context of the African Union (AU).

The MoU was signed here Wednesday following official talks between Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi and his Sahrawi counterpart, Brahim Gali, who is on a three-day official visit to Mozambique.

According to Mozambican Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi, the purpose of Gali’s visit is to strengthen the historic relations of friendship, solidarity and political c-ooperation between the two countries, and to strengthen their co-operation within the framework of the AU.

The SADR is a former Spanish colony, whose independence was declared by its liberation movement, the Polisario Front, in 1976. Morocco attempted to annex the territory, in a move which Mozambique’s first President, Samora Machel, denounced as “African colonization”.

Mozambique has always been a strong supporter of the SADR, and of its right to sit as a full member of the AU. The SADR was admitted to membership of the AU’s predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1982, and this led to Morocco walking out of the OAU.

Morocco was re-admitted to the AU at the AU summit in Addis Ababa last month, even though it still occupies about 75 per cent of the territory of the SADR.

Baloi told the media that during their meeting, Nyusi and Gali discussed the political situation in the SADR in the African and international context. “After the admission of Morocco to the African Union at the Addis Ababa summit, there has been an evolution in the relations between the SADR and Morocco. The question is to see whether or not Morocco will honour its commitments without conditions,” he added.

The SADR, he pointed out, wanted guarantees that it will regain those parts of its territory currently occupied by Morocco, and that a climate of peace will reign in the region.

Morocco’s membership of the AU, Baloi stressed, must mean full respect for the sovereignty of the SADR, in the light of the African Union Charter, which advocates respect for borders and outlaws the use of force to occupy the territory of another member state.