South Africa has extended an invitation to the Polisario Front’s leader Brahim Ghali to participate in the upcoming “BRICS/Africa” meeting scheduled for August 24 in Johannesburg.
Ghali arrived in Johannesburg yesterday evening aboard an Algerian presidential plane, according to the separatist front’s press agency. He was received by South Africa’s Minister of Administration and Public Service, Noxolo Kiviet, and the separatist front’s representative in the country, Mohamed Yeslam Besit.
The move comes days after Morocco rejected South Africa’s invitation to participate in the meeting, citing diplomatic tensions with the country.
The invitation was not initiated by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) group or the African Union. Instead, it stemmed from a South African national-level initiative, causing Morocco to opt out due to its strained relations with the country, a source from Morocco’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
In addition, the source denied recent speculations suggesting that Morocco has applied to join the BRICS group.
The relationship between the two countries has been strained primarily due to South Africa’s stance on the Western Sahara issue and its support for the Polisario Front.
This support has further escalated tensions with Morocco, which considers South Africa’s stance an interference in its domestic affairs and a challenge to its territorial integrity.
South Africa’s hostile position against Morocco’s interests has spilled over into various international and regional forums, further impacting Rabat and Pretoria’s diplomatic relations.
Earlier this year, South Africa managed to include the Western Sahara issue on the agenda of a meeting involving BRICS vice ministers of Foreign Affairs held in Pretoria in April.
The final statement of the meeting emphasized the “need to reach a lasting and mutually acceptable political solution to the Western Sahara issue, in line with the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.”
The Polisario Front’s statement claimed that Ghali arrived in South Africa to participate in the summit after receiving “an official invitation from the BRICS countries to the leaders of the African continent.”
However, fingers point to the likelihood that it was South Africa that extended the invitation to the separatist group in light of Morocco’s refusal to attend the event.