African Union: AU Re-admits Morocco After 33-Year Absence

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Morocco has been readmitted into the African Union on Monday since it left in 1984 after the organisation’s recognition of the independence of Western Sahara.

The re-admission was approved during the 28th AU Summit in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa after Morocco formally announced its wish to rejoin six months ago. According to reports, Senegalese president, Macky Sall and 39 heads of state out of 54 voted for the return of Morocco.

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Morocco garnered the votes despite strong opposition by countries including South Africa who supported the Polisario Front’s call for a referendum on self-rule which Morocco is against.

But Sall said:

“Even if the question of Western Sahara remains a question being raised, one can continue to find solutions as a family. Admission has been made and the most important thing today is that Morocco is an integral member of the African Union.”

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Saharawi Republic, Mohamed Salem Ould Salek said:

“From the moment Morocco did not set conditions on its return, we take their word and we accept that Morocco is admitted to the African Union.” 

The country had formally withdrawn from the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1984 over the admission of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) as a full member of the organisation.

SADR claims sovereignty over the whole Western Sahara territory, which Morocco claims as its own. And over 30 years after Morocco refused to rejoin the OAU/AU. And until Monday, Morocco had remained the only African country that is not a member of the AU – insisting it will not join or re-join – unless the membership of SADR, which is only partially recognised internationally, is withdrawn or frozen. This dispute has impaired Morocco’s relations with, to varying extents, all African countries and creates serious divisions within the AU.

Morocco returns to AU

Morocco asked the African Union (AU) to readmit it, as it seeks support for its plan to offer autonomy to the disputed territory of Western Sahara while keeping it under Moroccan sovereignty.

Last year, the North African country accused the immediate past chairperson of the African Union Commission Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of blocking its efforts to rejoin the organisation.

Morocco’s King Mohamed VI has toured African countries in the last three months in an effort to gather support for its autonomy proposal for the Western Sahara.

Some had feared Morocco would demand the expulsion of the SADR as a precondition for its own return to the AU but it maintained that the former Spanish colony under its control is an integral part of the kingdom, while the Polisario Front, which campaigns for the territory’s independence, demands a referendum on self-determination.

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Morocco will officially resume its seat in the pan-African organisation, on Tuesday. The Moroccan flag will also be raised in front of the AU’s headquarters in recognition of the return.

King Mohammed VI is scheduled to deliver a speech on Tuesday in front of the African leaders at the headquarters of the AU.

Morrocan King