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Wetangula supports Sharawi republic independence despite Ruto opposition

Kenya could again be on the diplomatic war path with Morocco after the East African nation’s National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula recognized Sharawi as a country.

This comes months after President William Ruto rescinded Kenya’s recognition of Sharawi as a nation in favor of Morocco.

“This morning, I hosted His Excellency Mohamed Limam Ali, the Ambassador of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, also known as the Sahrawi Republic and Western Sahara to Kenya, in my office at Parliament Buildings. The Ambassador conveyed greetings from President Brahim Ghali and expressed the desire to establish a parliamentary friendship between our countries.

During our discussion, the Ambassador emphasized their aspiration for recognition as a Republic outside Morocco, citing control over 40% of the area with a commitment to employ all legal means to fight for their independence. I reassured him of my support, noting their membership in the AU, akin to our shared responsibility.

I appreciate the Ambassador’s visit, considering it crucial, and express gratitude for his courtesy call. I look forward to fruitful engagements, assuring him of my availability for wise counsel and emphasizing the importance of keeping the Sahrawi Republic on the AU agenda,” said Speaker Wetangula.

In September 2022, Kenya found itself in a diplomatic gaffe after President William Ruto recognized Sharawi as a state and then rescinded the recognition in less than an hour. According to an NTV report, President Ruto had initially recognized Sharawi as a state but after receiving congratulatory messages from Morocco’s His Majesty King Mohammed VI, he announced that Kenya rescinded its recognition of Sharawi as a republic.

“Kenya rescinds its recognition of the SADR and initiates steps to wind down the entity’s presence in the country. Kenya supports the United Nations framework as the exclusive mechanism to find a lasting solution to the dispute over Western Sahara,” read a statement on President Ruto’s official social media pages, effectively cutting ties with Sharawi.

Morocco received the rescinding of recognition well, stating that it would strengthen bilateral ties and strategic partnerships with Kenya over the next six months, including the opening of a Kenyan embassy in Rabat.

Kenya initially established ties with Sharawi in March 2005 during the late former president Mwai Kibaki’s tenure but in October 2005, the diplomatic relations were suspended- a move initiated from the Kenyan side. Relations between Kenya and Morocco worsened in 2014 when Sharawi established an Embassy in Nairobi in 2014.

According to the East African, an area known as Western Sahara has been the reason for hostility between Sharawi and Morocco. A former Spanish colony, Morocco claimed it in 1975 but a movement that governs a portion of Western Sahara is known as the Sharawi Arab Democratic Republic. The people of Sharawi were enabled to exercise their inalienable right to self-determine after a referendum was held in 1991. Morocco then claimed autonomy over the region, recognizing Western Sahara as part of Morocco on the international stage.

However, by October 2022, 41 out of 54 African countries officially recognized Sharawi as a state despite Morocco lobbying against this. It remains to be seen what the official position of Kenya will be after President Ruto rescinded the recognition but Speaker Wetangula recognized Sharawi as a State.

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