With Morocco's return, African Union now complete

After 32 years of isolation, Morocco has been readmitted into the African Union, which it withdrew from in 1984 over the status of Western Sahara.

Tiksa Negeri/Reuters
King Mohammed VI of Morocco is escorted into the 28th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and the Government of the African Union in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, on Tuesday.

More than 30 years after walking out on the continent-wide organization, Morocco has rejoined the African Union, becoming the final African nation to do so.

Moroccan and AU officials announced the decision Tuesday from the African leaders summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. With its readmission, Morocco becomes the continental organization's 55th member state.

Morocco split from the AU in 1984, when it was known as the Organization of African Unity (OAU), after the group recognized the disputed Western Sahara territories as the independent Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. Morocco has long considered those areas to fall under its rule.

Western Sahara leaders applauded Morocco's return to the AU, calling it a “positive step” and noting that Morocco will now receive equal treatment with the disputed territory, forcing leaders to acknowledge its sovereignty to some degree.

“During this 33 years Morocco has been fighting militarily ... and the whole international community didn't recognize any sovereignty of Morocco for Western Sahara," said Western Sahara's Foreign Minister Mohamed Salem Ould Salek.

"And now Morocco is realizing that it has to sit with the Sahrawi Republic," he continued.

The region has fought for its independence from Morocco for decades, using guerrilla warfare tactics and eventually resulting to political means after a declaring a ceasefire more than two decades ago.

Morocco decried the AU’s decision to appoint an envoy for Western Sahara in 2014, arguing that the organization lacked proper legal authority to intrude. Since then, Morocco's King Mohammed VI has increased his diplomatic efforts in an attempt to regain admission.

Morocco, the northwest corner of the African continent, has long prioritized its cultural ties with Middle Eastern and European nations over its geographical connection to Africa. Still, Morocco’s economy could make significant gains by exploring connections in Africa’s mining, construction, medical, insurance, and banking sectors.

Some hope that the sovereignty dispute will become easier to resolve once both Morocco and Western Sahara can debate and work together within the AU, but Morocco’s admission was not based on any condition to recognize Western Sahara as sovereign.  

"As we have said, if the family grows bigger, we can find solutions as a family," Senegalese President Macky Sall told reporters after Tuesday’s vote.

Thirty-nine AU members voted to confirm Morocco’s readmission. Nine others voted against the move, all citing concerns about the northern African nation’s continued debate over its border with Western Sahara.

While leaders recognize the continent’s diverse cultures, religions, and economic interests, they hope that the now full unity in the AU can benefit the continent as a whole

“Africa wants to speak in one voice,” said Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia. “We need all African countries to be a part of that voice.”  

This report contains material from Reuters and the Associated Press.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to With Morocco's return, African Union now complete
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today