President William Ruto was on Wednesday evening forced to delete a statement he posted revoking the recognition of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (Western Sahara) - a breakaway region south of the Kingdom of Morocco.
Ruto deletes statement after uproar from diplomats [Screenshots]
According to officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the president's announcement caught them by surprise
President Ruto was caught in a diplomatic tiff after posting the statement, as many questioned the decision taken by the new head of state without a Cabinet in place.
He made the statement following a meeting with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, who delivered a congratulatory message from Morocco's king, His Majesty Mohammed VI.
"At State House in Nairobi, received a congratulatory message from His Majesty King Mohammed VI. Kenya rescinds its recognition of the SADR and initiates steps to wind down the entity’s presence in the country,” read the deleted statement from Ruto.
The disputed territory of Western Sahara
Western Sahara is a disputed territory on the northwest coast of North and West Africa.
About 20% of the territory is controlled by the self-proclaimed SADR, while the remaining 80% is occupied and administered by neighbouring Morocco.
For close to 35 years, Kenya has supported the Sahrawi Republic in its quest for self-determination and independence but Ruto's announcement seemed to have reversed that decision.
Interestingly Ruto announced the revocation just a day after SADR's President Brahim Ghali attended his inauguration ceremony.
The tweet sparked criticism from constitutional lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi who shared his contrary opinion.
“On this, I respectfully disagree with President William Ruto. The Sahrawi People of Western Sahara have the right of Peoples to self-determination. Morocco is a colonising State,” Ahmednasir posted.
Ruto then maintained that Kenya supports the United Nations framework as the exclusive mechanism to find a lasting solution to the dispute over Western Sahara.
Kenya has been a leading advocate for the de-escalation of the dispute between Sahrawi and Morocco and is one of the 41 UN member nations that recognise Sahrawi.
The president’s statement now signals a change in Kenya’s position, which has been welcomed by Moroccan officials.
According to officials from the ministry of foreign affairs, Ruto's announcement caught them by surprise.
Kenya is now the only African nation to formally recognise Morocco against SADR.
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