Denmark to vote on recognition of Western Sahara

Danish party the Red-Green Alliance (RGA) Thursday put forward a bill that would see Denmark recognise the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), a state formed by the indigenous population of Africa’s last colony, the Saharawis of Western Sahara, in 1976 and run from refugee camps in neighbouring Algeria.

SADR has been recognised by over 80 countries and is a member of the African Union. Western Sahara was initially colonised by Spain and since 1975 by Morocco – a colonisation that no other country recognises.

“The Danish Parliament calls on its government to recognise the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic as a free and independent state no later than July 2014. Furthermore, the government is called upon to work towards the recognition of Western Sahara by the European Union”, the bill that was submitted by the RGA’s foreign spokesperson Christian Juhl stated.

The bill also suggests that recognition of SADR by Denmark would enable “a unique cooperation between Denmark and Sweden”, as the Swedish parliament passed a similar bill in December 2012 that urged the Swedish government to recognise SADR as soon as possible.

Denmark and Sweden have both previously voted against the EU-Moroccan fisheries agreement that does not exclude the waters off Western Sahara and is thus in violation of international law. The two countries can therefore collaborate “in order to engage the EU positively in this forgotten conflict. Until now the EU has done the opposite”.

The bill suggests that pressure could be exerted on the EU “by e.g. blocking the import of goods from Western Sahara so that only goods that are officially recognised as being from Morocco are included in trade agreements as long as Morocco occupies Western Sahara”.

The bill also stresses that Denmark should openly support that the UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, MINURSO, is allowed to monitor the human rights situation in Western Sahara and that Denmark should endeavour to make international organisations in general, and the EU in particular, criticise the human rights situation more frequently. According to Human Rights Watch and other independent NGO’s, there is abundant proof of torture and abuse of Saharawis by the Moroccan occupying forces.

Read more:

Here, here and here.

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