CAPE TOWN, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- South Africa accepts the outcomes of the 28th African Union (AU) summit on the readmission of Morocco into the organization, President Jacob Zuma said on Wednesday.
South Africa did this in order to promote unity and coherence within the continent, Zuma said upon return from the just-concluded AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
"However, there were strong views from member states that by virtue of acceding to the Constitutive Act, Morocco should abide by all provisions of the Act and immediately resolve its relations with the Western Sahara to ensure territorial integrity between the two nations," Zuma said in remarks distributed by his office.
At the summit, the 54-member AU voted overwhelmingly to readmit Morocco following a lengthy debate. Thirty-nine of the 54 states approved Morocco's return to the AU.
South Africa, along with Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana and Algeria, opposed the decision. All of these countries have been active supporters of the rights of the Sahrawi people and their right to an independent homeland.
But the summit agreed on the view that the AU should prioritize the impasse between Morocco and the Western Sahara to change the status quo.
Failing to do so, African countries would risk undermining the principles on which the AU was constituted, as articulated in the Constitutive Act, Zuma noted.
The Western Sahara, one of Africa's last remaining colonial outposts, is a former Spanish colony under dispute since 1975 between Morocco and the Polisario Front which proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) with a government-in-exile in Tindouf, southwestern Algeria.
The Western Sahara has been on the UN list of non-self-governing territories since 1963. A UN-led process of negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario Front is lagging behind.
Morocco says it is ready to grant autonomy rule to Sahrawi people, while the Algeria-backed Polisario Front demands holding a self-determination referendum.
Souoth Africa keeps longstanding fraternal ties with the Polisario Front and the SADR.
The ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Tuesday expressed regret over the readmission of Morocco to the African Union (AU).
South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) said on Tuesday that Morocco's readmission into the AU is "regrettable".
"This decision represents a significant setback to the cause of the Sahrawi people and their quest for self-determination and independence in the Western Sahara," the party said.