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Morocco to Request Expulsion of Self-styled SADR from the African Union

Petition Calls for African Union to Recognize Morocco’s Sovereignty over Sahara

Rabat – A recent Jeune Afrique report has pointed towards Morocco’s intention to introduce a motion that would call for the expulsion from the African Union of the Polisario Front-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.

“In the corridors of the AU, Moroccan diplomats are not unforthcoming about their intention to introduce, with time, a motion requesting the exclusion of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR)”, Jeune Afrique wrote.

These allegations, should they be true, are hardly surprising.

In a recent report, BMI had already predicted that Morocco, now being in the ascendant in continental affairs, was finally close to having almost all the necessary means to make such a move. BMI said that Morocco’s AU membership “alarmed” and “hardened” the Polisario Front which negatively perceived the triumphant return of Morocco to continental affairs as an official and integral player.

 Growing continental support

Morocco’s “home-coming” story is rather remarkable. Until 2016, the Kingdom was not part of the African Union, having left the organization in 1984 amidst disagreements on the Western Sahara question.

The kingdom was readmitted in January 2017, which many observers have attributed to King Mohamed VI’s “Pan-African vision” endorsed by an Africa-centered foreign policy and a certain belief that “Morocco’s future belongs in its continent.”

The Kingdom has since gained in prominence in continental dealings, with many African leaders and commentators agreeing that Morocco’s return is a “positive force” and an “added value” to the organization.

And, to add insult to injury for the Polisario Front, Morocco was elected late last month to AU’s Peace and Security Council, which, according to BMI, showed “growing support for the kingdom among its African pers.”

“The two-year membership will give the country significant leverage over the organization and may help Rabat influencing more AU members to back a motion, signed by 28 AU members on July 18 2016, calling for the SADR’s suspension from the AU,” said the BMI report as it commented on the possible implications of Morocco’s rise to strategic prominence by securing a vote to AU’s organ in charge of security and conflict-related issues.

“Given the results of the elections that saw Morocco win a seat in AU’s PSC, they [Moroccan diplomats at the AU] have some reasons to believe that such a motion would be approved”, Jeune Afrique further noted in their report of Morocco’s alleged motion to be introduced to the AU.

In effect, on January 26, when Morocco bid to replace Algeria in AU’s PSC, 39 countries voted in favor, whereas only 16 abstained.

There are suggestions that Morocco now has the means to influence the decisions made in AU’s most strategic deliberations, especially given King Mohamed’s professed Pan-African orientation in his foreign policy, the enormous efforts invested in securing a strategic position in Africa, and the numerous bilateral treaties that Morocco has signed with its African peers over the recent years.                                  

And what about the abstainers?

The only challenge standing in the way of Morocco’s reported plan to introduce the alleged motion remains to convince a number of countries that have not yet been supportive towards Morocco’s position on the “Western Sahara question.” But that, Jeune Afrique suggested, no longer seems like a mountain to climb.

“Although the votes [for the seat in the PSC] are electronic and therefore secret, Morocco knows who the abstainers are and plans to launch an intensive lobbying campaign to convince them”, Jeune Afrique wrote.

Morocco is also said to be deploying an armada of Moroccan senior officials and diplomats known for their “pragmatism and professionalism” and revered in African circles of foreign policy experts and practitioners.

 

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