New Delhi - In a smart move, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has embarked on a tour of the East African nations of Rwanda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
New Delhi – In a smart move, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has embarked on a tour of the East African nations of Rwanda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
Not only is this the first such tour by the Moroccan monarch since his succession to the throne in 1999, but it is also full of strategic significance. Traditionally, Morocco, given its geographical position on the African continent and colonial history, has been identified with the Francophone countries of West Africa.
Indeed, Morocco could be described as the shining star of Francophone African countries given its stable political environment, steady economic development, and sagacious foreign policy. Its relations with sister West African nations span a wide array of fields including cooperation in agriculture, fertilizers, banking, healthcare, education, etc.
This is the direct result of Morocco championing South-South cooperation to achieve African solutions for African problems. That said, Morocco’s reach towards East Africa has been limited. And it’s precisely to correct this imbalance that King Mohammed VI has undertaken this journey to three key countries in that part of the continent. This is also of a piece with Morocco’s efforts to re-join the African Union (AU) and build up a case for the same. It will be recalled that Morocco had left AU – then called the Organization of African Unity – after the pan-African body recognized the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) as a member in 1984.
The SADR is supposed to be an independent country for the “Sahrawi” people in the western Sahara. However, in reality most of the Western Sahara or Moroccan Sahara territories legitimately lie within the sovereignty and administration of the Moroccan government. Since 1975 an armed separatist group called the Polisario Front– principally backed by Algeria – has been carrying out a campaign for the full establishment and recognition of SADR.
In fact, the SADR today is neither recognized by the UN nor by the Arab League. In other words, there is a huge question mark over the status of SADR as a proper state. Against this backdrop, to keep Morocco out of the AU, especially when it formally announced its intention to re-join the pan-African body in the group’s last summit in the Rwandan capital of Kigali in July, makes absolutely no sense. It is noteworthy that as many as 28 African nations submitted a motion to suspend SADR from AU after Morocco announced its desire to reunite with its African family.
Morocco has much to offer the African Union in terms of economic cooperation, security collaboration and a vision of self-sufficiency for Africa that will see the continent emerge as the next engine of global growth. The African Union must shed the baggage of the past and welcome Morocco with open arms. And East African nations such as Rwanda, Tanzania and Ethiopia must support this process. As far as India is concerned, New Delhi should take this opportunity to scale up relations with Rabat. For once Morocco returns to AU, India will be in a good position to leverage Morocco’s Africa connections. Both India and Morocco want a strong united Africa. Hence, New Delhi should wholeheartedly support Rabat in effecting Morocco’s AU return.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy.