September 29, 2018 (JUBA) – South Sudan distanced itself from the conflict over the Western Sahara which is a disputed territory claimed by both the Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front, saying it does not recognize the Polisario proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
South Sudanese Foreign Minister Nhial Deng Nhial and Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita held a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meetings in New York on Friday. The meeting was also attended by the head of Morocco’s external Intelligence Agency, Mohamed Yassine Mansouri.
Speaking to the Moroccan official news agency Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) Nhial said that South Sudan respects Morocco’s territorial and does not recognize the Polisario’s self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
“We fully respect the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Morocco,” Nihal told MAP.
He added that President Salva Kiir had already addressed a letter to King Mohammed VI, informing him that “the Republic of South Sudan has never had and is not maintaining a relationship with this separatist entity (SADR).”
South Sudan supports Morocco’s autonomy plan and does not support any entity that opposes Morocco’s territorial integrity or wishes to be separated from the North African country.
Nhial emphasized his country’s support for Morocco’s autonomy plan, noting that South Sudan does not support “any entity” that opposes, the minister further stressed according to the official news agency.
Morocco has claimed Western Sahara since colonial power Spain left in 1975. But Polisario fought a guerrilla war for independence for the Sahrawi people until a United Nations-backed ceasefire in 1991, monitored by U.N. peacekeepers.
Before South Sudan referendum, the Polisario supported the independence of South Sudan. Also, the group leader Mohammed Abdel-Aziz met with Salva Kiir on the sidelines of the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa in January 2011.
However, in a bid to consolidate bilateral relations, King Mohammed VI of Morocco paid a two-day visit to Juba in February 2017 and vowed to support South Sudan development projects in the country after a tour at field hospital donated by his country.