The Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic has started plans to sue governments and corporate bodies in Africa dealing with Morocco in the trade of resources it believes are taken from its territory.

The SADR had in a meeting in Abuja over the weekend chosen Femi Falana to be its legal representative.

The tiny state, which is recognised by the African Union in principle, plans to file its suit at the African Court of Human Rights in Arusha, Tanzania.

After accepting the appointment, Falana had said suits will begin popping up in Nigeria, which consumes tons of phosphate allegedly taken from SADR by Morocco.

The lawyer said he was not expecting much of a hurdle in the success of SADR’s appeal for an end to Morocco’s occupation of its mineral-rich territory.

According to Falana, suitable precedences are already established for the course of the SADR following a ruling of the  International Court of Justice, which confirmed the sovereign status of Western Sahara,  three separate judgments of the European Court of Human Rights as well as a ruling of the South African High Court, which declared that Morocco lacks the legal competence to enter into any form of bilateral agreements or treaties with other nations and corporate bodies for the exploitation of the mineral resources in Western Sahara without the consent of the people of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.

The tiny Arab territory was a Spanish colony between 1885 and 1975 but after Spain’s departure however, Mauritania and Morocco laid claim to the land.

The latter, however, invaded the territory in 1975, preventing the Spaniards from conducting a referendum on independence for the Saharawi people.

The ICJ’s ruling came the next year, rejecting Morocco’s occupation.

Morocco’s forces stayed on however, forcing at least 200,000 SADR natives to become refugees in Algeria till this day.

SADR had in 1984 claimed independence, receiving the backing of the African Union.

Morocco responded by leaving the organisation but rejoined in January 2017.

Despite SADR being a member of the AU, countries like Nigeria have remained silent about its continued occupation by Morocco.

 

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