Morocco wants to rejoin African Union: king

2016-07-18 07:17
King Mohammed VI (AFP)

King Mohammed VI (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Rabat - Morocco wants to rejoin the African Union, 32 years after quitting the bloc in protest at its decision to accept Western Sahara as a member, King Mohammed VI said on Sunday.

Morocco maintains that Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, is an integral part of the kingdom even though local Sahrawi people led by the Polisario Front have long campaigned for the right to self-determination.

"For a long time our friends have been asking us to return to them, so that Morocco can take up its natural place within its institutional family. The moment has now come," the monarch said in a message sent to an AU summit taking place in Kigali, the MAP Moroccan news agency reported.

Morocco has occupied the sparsely populated Western Sahara area since 1975 in a move that was not recognised by the international community.

Morocco quit the AU in protest in 1984 when the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) was admitted as a member.

But although Morocco left the club, "it never quit Africa", King Mohammed said in his message to AU leaders as they began a two-day meeting in the Rwandan capital.

"Through this historic act and return, Morocco wants to work within the AU to transcend divisions," he added.

'The burden of a historical error'

In 1991, the UN brokered a ceasefire between Moroccan troops and Sahrawi rebels of the Algerian-backed independence movement the Polisario Front but a promised referendum to settle the status of the desert territory has yet to materialise.

Earlier this year Morocco expelled several UN staff members who were part of the MINURSO mission in Western Sahara in angry retaliation over UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's use of the term "occupation" to describe the status of the territory.

In his address to the AU, King Mohammed urged the bloc to rethink its position on the "phantom state" of Western Sahara, saying that a political solution was being worked on under the auspices of the UN.

"The recognition of a pseudo state is hard for the Moroccan people to accept," he said.

The SADR is not a member of the UN or the Arab League, the king went on to note, adding that "at least 34 countries" do not recognise it.

"On the Sahara issue, institutional Africa can no longer bear the burden of a historical error and a cumbersome legacy," the monarch said.

Morocco's return to the AU would need to be validated by a vote.

Read more on:    un  |  au  |  king mohammed vi  |  morocco

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.