Rabat – The self proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) has not been invited to attend the upcoming 5th European Union-African Union Summit in Ivory Coast, despite Algerian claims to the contrary.
As the October 27 deadline to finalize the list of attendees approached, sources close to the Morocco’s AU delegation told Morocco World News that SADR’s participation had been ruled out.
“They have not been invited,” said the source.
The confirmation comes after an unnamed Ivorian official told pan-African magazine Jeune Afrique, “We do not recognize this state [SADR] and have informed the chairperson of the [AU] Commission. We are financing this meeting, and we invite who we want.”
The question of SADR’s attendance was the subject of weeks of back-and-forth between officials from Morocco, Algeria, South Africa and other countries from both continents.
In late September, the conference’s name was changed from the “EU-Africa Summit” to the “EU-AU Summit.” The remaning led the Algerian ambassador to Brussels, Amar Belani, to proclaim to state-run press agency APS that this meant SADR was invited by default.
However, sources in Brussels promptly denied any such invitation. “As was always the case with preceding summits, the Algerians pushed for an inclusion of SADR, but no change was made in that regard,” they told Moroccan news outlet Le Desk.
The efforts to keep the SADR off the guest list escalated, as the French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said during a visit to Morocco that his country only wanted “sovereign” states to attend the meeting, implicitly ruling out the SADR, which is not recognized by France.
The minister’s oblique support provoked a response from Algeria’s United Nations ambassador, Ahmed Boukhari. The diplomat accused France and Morocco of “conniving” to kick SADR out of the conference.
Stoking the flames, South Africa announced in mid-October that it would forcibly change the location of the summit if the separatist organization was not included.
The longtime Polisario Front-supporter issued an ultimatum, giving the summit organizers until October 27 to invite the SADR, or else South Africa would move the conference to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where the AU headquarters are based.
Barring a forced relocation at the hands of South Africa, the 5th EU-AU Summit will be held November 29 and 30 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where invitees will discuss “investing in youth,” peace and security, democracy, good governance, sustainable development, and continental integration.