LITTLE known Sahrawi Republic has opened a new diplomatic mission in Nairobi, bringing the total number of its embassies in the world to 12.
Announcing the opening of the embassy yesterday, the country's Foreign Affairs Minister Ouidsalek Salem said the mission will help deepen foreign relationship between Kenya and the North African country.
"It is also going to rekindle historical ties that we have shared with Kenya since Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's founding President's time, through to Moi, Kibaki and now to Uhuru," Salem said.
He said Sahrawi's relationship with Kenya was founded in 1960 when Jomo Kenyatta supported their clamour for independence from their coloniser, Spain in 1963.
Despite the independence, majority of the country's territory has remained under Morocco Kingdom administration.
The Kenyan mission, which will receive its first ambassador early next week, will be the 12th to be opened in Africa.
The country has embassies in Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Angola, Libya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and Uganda.
It has been fighting for liberation from Morocco, which has occupied some of its territories since 1977.
"We hope the Kenyan mission will assist us pressure the international community to pressure Moroco to allow Sahrawi people in the occupied region to hold a referendum to determine whether to remain a part of Moroco or become indepenednt and part of the larger Sahrawi government," Salem said.
He said in September 1991 under the the African Union leadership, Moroccan authorities had agreed to allow citizens of Sahrawi in places they occupy to hold a referendum only to renege on the commitment after the AU meeting.
The country has a population of about 500,000.