Rabat - "It is a beautiful day when one returns home after too long an absence. Africa is my continent and my home. I am finally home, and I am happy to see you. I have missed you all."
Rabat – “It is a beautiful day when one returns home after too long an absence. Africa is my continent and my home. I am finally home, and I am happy to see you. I have missed you all.”
This is how King Mohammed VI expressed Morocco’s return to the African Union (AU) after 33 years of absence.
In his speech to African leaders at the closing of the 28th Summit of the African Union in Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa on Tuesday, the King discussed a range of African issues and highlighted the role that Morocco has played within the African continent, even it was away from the pan-African organization, in order to “show how indispensable Africa is to Morocco and how indispensable Morocco is to Africa.”
“The Kingdom has never left Africa”
Over three decades after Morocco’s withdrawal from the AU in 1984 following the pan-African organization’s public acceptance of the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) as a full-fledged member state, King Mohammed VI stated that “it was necessary to withdraw from the AU; it has enabled Morocco’s action to be refocused in Africa.”
“We have thought it through carefully and it is now so obvious!” he continued. “It is time to return home; at a time when the Kingdom is among the most developed African nations and when a majority of Member States looks forward to our return, we have decided to join our family again.”
The King underscored that, despite the absence of Morocco from the AU, the Kingdom has never left Africa. Morocco’s ties with other African countries has remained strong – and African countries have always relied on Morocco.
In a further attempt to demonstrate Morocco’s role in supporting the African continent since the succession of the King to the throne in 1999, King Mohammed VI asserted that “since 2000, Morocco has signed nearly a thousand agreements with African countries, in various fields of cooperation. Between 1956 and 1999, 515 agreements were signed, whereas 949 agreements have been signed since 2000.”
Sharing Is Caring
As part of Morocco’s goal to consolidate South-South partnership and embark on cooperative relationships with other African countries, the King paid visits to many African countries, including Nigeria, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Madagascar. Supporting these critical relationships consolidated Morocco’s diplomatic ties with other African countries and add fresh impetus to Morocco’s bid to regain its seat in the AU.
During Tuesday’s speech, King Mohammed VI expressed his pleasure to collaborate with Nigeria on their gas pipeline project, which represents one of the most critical bilateral agreements for Morocco and Nigeria, as well as their neighboring countries.
“I had the pleasure of launching the Africa Atlantic Gas Pipeline project with my brother, His Excellency Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the King said. “This project will of course allow natural gas to be transported from gas-producing countries to Europe. But more than that, it will benefit the whole of West Africa.”
The King went on to explain that the project will contribute “to creating a regional electricity market and [will] be a substantial source of energy that will help develop industry, improve economic competitiveness and speed up social development,” noting that “Morocco’s vision of South-South cooperation is clear and constant, since Morocco shares what it has.”
Welcome to Morocco
While several African countries started deporting Sub-Saharan immigrants, including Algeria, which in December deported over 1,400 Sub-Saharan citizens, Morocco took the initiative to provide emergency assistance to them in accordance with the instructions of King Mohammed VI.
During his speech, the King has shown that he is the King of Africa, not only of Morocco. Africans are equal in Morocco, which does its utmost to improve the situation of Sub-Saharan migrants.
“In my country, sub-Saharan citizens are received according to the conditions previously announced. Several regularization operations have been launched. More than 25000 people benefited from the first phase,” the King said. “These men and women [Sub-Saharan living in Morocco] have suffered too long due to their life in hiding. We are acting to stop these people from living on the fringes of society, with no work, no healthcare, nowhere to live and no access to education. We are acting so couples, particularly those from mixed marriages – between Moroccans and sub-Saharans – will not be parted.”
Morocco succeeded in its bid to return to the AU by securing the support of 39 out of 54 AU’s member states on Monday, 30 January 2017.
Ahead of its re-admission to the AU, Morocco took several steps to return.
Following the formal request of the King to rejoin the AU at the 27th AU summit, Morocco has launched a wide campaign to receive the support of the African countries and initiate the legal procedures for readmittance.
During his speech to the Moroccans on the 17th anniversary of Throne Day on July 30, 2016, King Mohammed VI expressed Morocco’s determination to return to the AU, saying, “To strengthen our sincere African policy, during the 27th African Union Summit, I announced Morocco’s decision to return to its African institutional family.”
The King explained that Morocco’s return to the AU does not mean that Morocco will “relinquish its legitimate rights, nor recognize a pseudo entity lacking the basic elements of sovereignty which was imposed on the African Union, in flagrant violation of the latter’s charter. […] Our country’s return to its natural place reflects our keenness to continue defending our interests from within the African Union and to enhance cooperation with our partners, at the bilateral and regional levels.”
In a forward step to show Morocco’s readiness to return to the AU, the King’s advisor, Tayeb Fassi-Fihri, submitted Morocco’s official request to the former Chairperson of the AU Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, during the UN General Assembly in New York on January 23, 2016. The request was then submitted to consider Morocco’s return an agenda item during the 28th Ordinary Assembly of AU Heads of State and Government that was held in Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa.
In January 10, the King Mohammed VI chaired a council of Ministers in January, in the Royal Palace in Marrakech to adopt the Constituent Act of the AU, signed in Lomé on July 11, 2000.
The Committee of Foreign Affairs, National Defense, Islamic Affairs and Moroccans Living Abroad, in the House of Representatives, unanimously adopted the bill on the approval of the Constitutive Act of the African Union on January 18 in Rabat.