In the Morocco vs. Polisario scramble for international support on the Western Sahara dossier, the balance seems to be swinging in Rabat’s favor.
Rabat – Polisario’s claims suffered another blow in recent weeks as Moroccan representatives at the African Union Parliament urged fellow delegates to respect their recent commitments.
At a debate on African migration yesterday in Johannesburg, Morocco’s delegates at the pan-African Parliament “thwarted attempts from some circles to use the event to put forth pro-Polisario claims,” MAP reported today.
Preventing Polisario supporters from shifting focus from the stated agenda of the parliamentary meeting, Moroccan delegates pointed to the North African country’s contributions to a number of continental agendas.
Since its readmission to the African Union in January 2017, they argued according to MAP, Morocco has pioneered on numerous continental fronts, including security, migration, and agriculture.
Rabat has consistently showed its genuine willingness to act for the good of Africa, they suggested.
Development efforts in Western Sahara
More importantly, though, Morocco’s MPs brought up the country’s investment efforts in Western Sahara, arguing that the southern provinces have experienced remarkable transformations in recent years.
In the past 5-6 years, the bulk of Morocco’s investment in development projects has gone to Dakhla and Laayoune in Western Sahara.
In addition, Morocco’s representatives urged their fellow African delegates to show commitment to recent AU statements by refraining from discussing the Western Sahara territorial dispute.
The urge was meant to remind the meeting that the African Union has already decided to leave the resolution of the Sahara conflict to the exclusive authority of the UN Security Council.
According to MAP, however, the most compelling episode in Morocco’s rebuttal of Polisario’s separatist claims was delivered when Yehfadeh Ben Mbarek, a local Sahrawi representative who was part of the Moroccan delegation, said that he and many Sahrawis are “proud of [their] Moroccanness.”
“I was born and educated in Dakhla, one of the cities of the Moroccan Sahara, and where I democratically engage in politics,” Mbarek said, alluding to the fact that Western Sahara takes part in Moroccan general elections. In the latest Moroccan elections, the southern provinces had the highest participation rate.
He added, in an even more heartfelt plea, that he is “one example of Moroccan Sahrawis, proud of my Moroccanness and fully enjoying my economic, political, and economic rights.”
The audience greeted Mbarek’s final remarks with a thunderous ovation, according to MAP.
Morocco’s growing influence in Africa
The news comes as Morocco continues to solidify its growing influence on African affairs.
At the 28th AU summit last month in Addis Ababa, African leaders applauded Morocco’s efforts on migration. Meanwhile, Rabat’s assertive presence in the banking and investment sectors has helped cement relations with a number of countries, especially in Francophone sub-Saharan Africa.
Of Morocco’s sustained efforts to establish itself as a continental hub in a wide range of sectors, the Financial Times recently wrote, “While Morocco’s new African strategy has been most evident in commercial deals, it also points towards the emergence of a genuinely post-colonial African order.”