New Delhi - In a historic development, Morocco has returned to the African Union (AU) after a gap of 33 years during the 28th summit of the pan-African body in Addis Ababa.
New Delhi – In a historic development, Morocco has returned to the African Union (AU) after a gap of 33 years during the 28th summit of the pan-African body in Addis Ababa.
It will be recalled that Morocco was the only African nation outside AU’s ambit for three decades despite being a founding member of the pan-African body’s earlier avatar, Organisation of African Unity. Morocco had decided to withdraw from Africa’s institutional family in 1984 after the latter recognised the so-called Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) as a member. The SADR is the product of an illegal separatist movement regarding the Moroccan Sahara, over which Morocco exercises territorial sovereignty.
However, last year Morocco decided to return to AU and embarked on a vigorous diplomatic outreach vis-à-vis other African nations to push forward its case. In this regard, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI visited several eastern African nations such as Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania over the last few months. This was particularly important in garnering support for Morocco’s return to AU. For, Morocco has been traditionally influential in Francophone western Africa but its engagement with Anglophone eastern Africa has been relatively weak. King Mohammed’s visits corrected this imbalance and showed Morocco’s commitment towards the African continent as a whole.
As a result of these efforts, Morocco secured the endorsement of 39 African countries out of the 54-member bloc to return to AU. True, the issue of Morocco and the SADR simultaneously holding membership of the pan-African body remains. But that business has been left for another day. For now, Africa and the international community have good reasons to celebrate Morocco’s return to AU. First, the African institutional family is now complete with Morocco back in its fold. Second, Morocco’s return significantly diminishes the scope for politicking over the Moroccan Sahara/SADR issue that has long held AU hostage.
In fact, the obsession of certain AU members with de-colonisation had prevented the organisation from achieving unity and realising its true potential as a driver of African growth and development. With Morocco’s return, AU can speed up the process of practical continental integration. Third, Morocco brings with it an indigenous development model that can be adopted by other African nations. Morocco has been championing South-South cooperation between sister African nations based on the concept of ‘African solutions for African problems’. Add to this Morocco’s advances in areas such as agriculture and food security, sustainable development and renewable energy – all relevant in the African context – and there’s no denying the fact that the country can contribute much to the continent in terms of knowledge, expertise and human capital.
Plus, Morocco has a multidimensional approach to tackling the scourge of Islamist terrorism sweeping through many parts of Africa. It has embarked on active security/intelligence cooperation with several countries in Africa and Europe. It has been at the forefront of coordinating action at the UN against transnational terrorists and foreign fighters. And it has been ideologically fighting Islamist extremism by promoting accurate, moderate Islamic teachings by training of foreign imams and establishing the Mohammed VI Foundation of African Ulema.
All of this Moroccan experience will only enrich AU and help the pan-African body tackle the myriad challenges it faces today. Africa can emerge as the next hub of global growth. However, for that to happen it needs to leave behind the baggage of the past and look to the future. The de-colonisation process in Africa is over. The biggest threat that the continent faces today is neo-colonisation through multinational politico-corporate entities. If Africa is to ward off this challenge, ensure that African resources are used for Africa’s development and become a global growth hub, it needs to be united with African nations trusting each other. By welcoming Morocco back into its fold, AU has taken a bold step towards the future.
This article was first published at Times of India
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy