AFTER 33 YEARS OF ABSENCE, MOROCCO ALL SET TO REJOIN AFRICAN UNION

After leaving the pan African organization three decades ago, Morocco is set to rejoin the African Union (AU) during the 28th African summit scheduled for Jan 30-31 in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia.

Morocco left the former Organisation of African Unity (AU's predecessor) in 1984, to protest the seating of the Polisario Front as representatives of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), a former Spanish colony west of the Sahara that Morocco considers part of its territory. SADR disputes Morocco's position, and 30 years later the dispute remains unresolved.

For over three decades, Morocco has refused to be part of the organization, but recently the country has changed its policies, making the readmission to the AU on the top of its agenda.

Last July, King Mohammed VI of Morocco sent a message to the 27th AU summit in Kigali, Rwanda, saying that 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 organization, the king mentioned the repeated call of many African friends of the kingdom as well as a thorough reflection, which concluded that "when a body is sick, it is treated more effectively from the inside than from the outside."

He also stressed that from within, "Morocco will contribute to making the AU a more robust organization, 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 formally submitted a request to re-join the continental body in September.

The request was submitted after Morocco 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, on the top of which the African giant, Nigeria.

Consequently, the north African kingdom raised the total of the supporters to its bid to 40 as was announced by the 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 Moroccan parliament unanimously adopted the constitutive 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 African Union.

On Jan. 10, the council of ministers, which is chaired by the king, approved the draft texts.

While Morocco has not been 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. In addition, Moroccan firms have strong holds in the many African markets, especially those related to banking, insurance, air transport, telecommunications and housing.

According to official statistics from the country's economy and finance ministry, over the decade ending in 2016, Morocco's investment in sub-Saharan Africa represented 85 percent of its overall foreign direct investment stocks.

In addition to economic relations, Morocco has strong cooperation with many African countries, particularly in the fields of security, peacekeeping operations and managing religious affairs.

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.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

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