Rabat – Nouakchott – Morocco has formally announced it was seeking to rejoin the African Union more than three decades after it left in protest over Western Sahara.
The request was included in a written speech signed by King Mohammed VI of Morocco and addressed to AU members, who are meeting at the African Union Summit currently held in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali.
Morocco withdrew from the Organization of African Unity, the African Union’s precursor, in 1984 in protest over the admission to the organization of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which claims sovereignty over Western Sahara territory that Morocco also claims.
“Today, Morocco wishes resolutely and unequivocally to regain its place within its institutional family and to continue to live up to its responsibilities, with even more resolve and enthusiasm.
Morocco firmly believes in the wisdom of the AU and its ability to restore legality and correct mistakes along the way,” the Moroccan king said in a message delivered by a special envoy.
“Our friends have long been asking us to return among them so that Morocco may take its natural place within its institutional family. That time has now come … the time for ideology is over. Our peoples need concrete, tangible action,” he added.
King Mohammed urged the AU to reconsider its stance on what he called the “phantom state”, saying that a political solution was being worked on under the supervision of the United Nations.
“On the Sahara issue, institutional Africa can no longer bear the burden of a historical error and a cumbersome legacy,” the King said, adding: “Through this historic act and return, Morocco wants to work within the AU to transcend divisions.”
Meanwhile, 28 out of 52 AU member-states have welcomed Morocco’s demand to rejoin the African Union.
The 28 African countries submitted a petition on Monday to the AU president, expressing their commitment to help Morocco regain its status as AU member, by withdrawing the membership of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
On the other hand, the AU said it will continue pushing for the rights of the people inhabiting Western Sahara with the goal of holding a self-determination referendum.
On a different note, The AU failed to elect a new leader on Monday, postponing the decision to next year’s summit.
The ongoing summit in Rwanda had been supposed to find replacement for AU Commission President Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.