Lesotho denies Rabat's allegations of its support for the so-called "Tangier Appeal"

Maseru (Lesotho) 2 February 2023 (SPS) - The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Lesotho, Mr. Lejone Mpotjoana, issued an official statement yesterday, Wednesday, in which he denied any connection between his country and the Appeal that Rabat claimed that it had recently signed in Tangier in support of what the Moroccan media called the expulsion of the Sahrawi Republic from the African Union.

In his statement, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Lesotho said, “It has come to the attention of the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho that there are news articles in the media regarding the so-called Tangier Appeal which was allegedly signed by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Lesotho, Mr. Lesego Makguthi in Morocco, where it claimed that he signed, by the name of Lesotho, an appeal for the expulsion of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic or Western Sahara from the African Union.”

The African official denied this altogether, saying: "The government of Lesotho strongly, completely and utterly distances itself from this alleged signing of an appeal by former Minister Makguthi, and reiterates its continued principled and proud position on the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic or Western Sahara."

In this context, he affirmed, "The Kingdom of Lesotho and Western Sahara maintain friendly bilateral relations, as successive governments in Lesotho have continued their support for Western Sahara. These relations have been maintained over the years and have continued to grow from good to better."

The African official added that Lesotho's foreign policy is based on principles that respect the "sovereign equality of all states, peaceful settlement of disputes, non-use of threat or force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, and the right to self-determination".

Regarding its position on the Sahrawi issue, Lesotho's foreign minister indicated that his country's foreign policy, "which has remained almost the same since it gained independence in 1966, has maintained the country's principled position to support the struggle of the people of Western Sahara," and even that "Lesotho exists as a state today because of solidarity with other states and its independence and sovereignty will continue, to a large extent, based on solidarity with other states.

The statement also mentioned that the Southern African Development Community (SADC), “has organized a solidarity conference on Western Sahara early in 2019 in the Republic of South Africa and its summit held in the Republic of Tanzania in August 2019 endorsed the decisions of this conference,” and thus, it added, “ The Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho will continue to maintain its principled position on Western Sahara, and reiterate its support for the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as an independent African state, coexisting side by side with the Kingdom of Morocco in peace and security”.

The African minister expressed his regret that "Western Sahara remains the only colony on the African continent contrary to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations," stressing that the issue of Western Sahara is a matter of decolonization that still has to be completed on the basis of the Sahrawi people's exercise of their inalienable right to self-determination and independence.

In this regard, the statement continues, "The government of Lesotho stresses the need to create conditions that would allow a peaceful and fair referendum to decide the fate of the people of Western Sahara," and therefore "the government declares Lesotho's support for peaceful negotiations aimed at holding the referendum without preconditions."

The minister concluded his statement by affirming that his country "will investigate the alleged involvement of Mr. Lesego Makguthi in the signing of the so-called Tangier Appeal and other related activities on his part and take appropriate action, if necessary."

It is worth noting that the Moroccan occupying power had organized a new play that brought together a number of former African ministers and officials, claiming that they represent their countries and that they are calling for the expulsion of the Sahrawi Republic from the African Union.

Although the participants in this play are just former officials, the Moroccan media, as usual, tries to mislead Moroccan, African and even international public opinion by claiming that they represent their countries, which was undermined by the Kingdom of Lesotho's denial of any knowledge of the official participation of a representative in this failed play.

SPS 110/T