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‘Western Sahara’ Crisis Looms over Africa-Arab Summit Preparatory Meetings | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Morocco’s King Mohammed VI holds a book during a visit, at the presidential palace in Abidjan June 2, 2015. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

Malabo – Several countries announced they would withdraw from the 4th Africa-Arab Summit to be held on Wednesday in the Republican of Equatorial Guinea, due to the insistence of African Union to include delegation of the Western Sahara in the annual meeting.

During a ministerial meeting on Tuesday in preparation for the Summit, Morocco’s Minister for Moroccans Living Abroad and Migration Affairs Anis Birou opposed the presence of the flag of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic that was unilaterally declared in 1976 by the Polisario.

Morocco was followed by Saudi Arabia, as the Kingdom’s Ambassador to Egypt, Ahmed Qattan said the move was in solidarity with Morocco.

Other countries also withdrew from the meeting, including Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait and Jordan.

The Moroccan minister attributed Morocco’s decision to withdraw from the summit to the insistence of some delegations to ensure the participation of the Polisario.

“Morocco has made great efforts with African countries to resolve this problem, but some countries have prevented it”, Birou said.

During the ministerial meeting, Qattan said that Saudi Arabia supports Morocco in its decision to withdraw from the summit, adding: “Everything that affects Morocco’s sovereignty is rejected by Saudi Arabia.”

Qattan called for suspending the ministerial session and holding a meeting to resolve the crisis. He stressed Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz keenness on the success of the Africa-Arab Summit.

Sources said that African Union member states have agreed to cancel discussions over crisis of the Western Sahara, until leaders decide to tackle it at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Some countries, mainly from the African Union, recognized Polisario’s Sahrawi Republic (SADR) but none of the Western powers recognized it.