The Organization of African Unity began its first summit in two years after Western Saharan guerrillas agreed to stay away from the meeting. The concession by the Polisario Front attracted more than the needed quorum of 34 countries to the summit, the first time so many OAU heads of state have sat down together since a meeting in Nairobi in 1981. Two previous attempts to hold the meeting, the organization's 19th, failed because of divisions among OAU members over the Polisario Front. Delegates had feared that a third failure would destroy the OAU.
Ibrahim Hakin, foreign minister of the Polisario's Saharan Arab Democratic Republic, said the SADR pulled out of the summit in order to save African unity.