Morocco to rejoin African Union after 33 years

Rabat, Jan 27 (IANS) After leaving the pan African organisation three decades ago, Morocco is set to rejoin the African Union during its 28th African summit scheduled for January 30-31 in Addis Ababa.

Morocco in 1984 decided to withdraw from the Organisation of African Unity, which later became the AU, in protest against the admission of Western Sahara, which seeks independence for a chunk of territory the country claims as its own.

Morocco has since then refused to be part of the organisation, but recently it changed its policy, making the re-admission to the AU on the top of its agenda, Xinhua news agency reported.

King Mohammed VI in July last year sent a message to the 27th AU summit in Kigali, saying his country “should not remain outside its African institutional family, and it should regain its natural, rightful place within the AU”.

Explaining the reasons for returning to the pan-African organisation, the king cited “the repeated call of many African friends of the kingdom as well as a thorough reflection”.

He also stressed that from within, “Morocco will contribute to making the AU a more robust organisation, one that is both proud of its credibility and relieved of the trappings of an obsolete era”.

Two months after the king’s message to the African leaders, the North African kingdom in September formally submitted a request to re-join the continental body.

The request was submitted after it received the support of a group of 28 AU member states, representing more than the majority of the 54 African Union member states required for admission.

Following this request, the Moroccan king toured numerous African countries, including some that Rabat has long regarded as hostile to its territorial unity such as the African giant Nigeria.

Consequently, the north African kingdom raised the total of the supporters to its bid to 40 as was announced by Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar during a parliamentary session to review the constitutive act of AU a week earlier.

Last week, both houses of the country’s parliament adopted the act of AU, its additional protocol and the bill on the approval of the act, preparing the ground for the Kingdom’s return to the AU.

The council of ministers chaired by the king on January 10 approved the draft texts.

While Morocco has not being a part of AU, it has developed strong ties with many countries in the continent, particularly in French-speaking states in West and Central Africa.

The north African kingdom is already the top investor in west Africa and the second largest African investor in the continent.

Moroccan firms have strong holds in the many African markets, especially those related to banking, insurance, air transport, telecommunications and housing.

Through rejoining the AU, Morocco looks ahead to expand its influence in the continent and join hands with member states to meet the countless challenges facing the continent.