The news comes as Morocco continues to capitalize on its growing clout in African affairs, gathering momentum over the Moroccanness of Western Sahara.
Rabat – Alain-Claude Bilie-Bye-Nze, the foreign minister of Gabon, has said that his country is committed to the “Moroccan identity” of Western Sahara and is poised to work on many other fronts to bolster the diplomatic relations between Rabat and Libreville.
The Gabonese minister’s comments come just hours after his country opened a general consulate in Laayoune, following in the footsteps of four other African countries, including Guinea, who, by launching official diplomatic missions in Dakhla or Laayoune are making strong statements in support for the “Moroccanness” of the disputed region.
“We already have an embassy in Morocco and the opening of this consulate general in Laayoune is part of the continuity of this diplomatic representation,” said the Gabonese diplomat. “Gabon will continue to work with Morocco on other subjects which are part of a dynamic of strengthening our cooperation and the fraternal ties between our two countries.”
He added that, in addition to showcasing Gabon’s support for the Moroccanness of the southern provinces, the country’s Laayoune consulate is also a testimony to the “singular, special, and close” ties between “our two nations.”
The news comes as Morocco continues to capitalize on its growing political and diplomatic clout in African affairs. Since joining the African Union three years ago, the North African country has emerged as an indispensable continental leader, many observers have noted in recent months.
An essential part of the country’s “African gaze,” as its Africa-focused diplomacy is often dubbed, is to get as many African countries as possible to support its legitimacy on Western Sahara.
In recent months, the cities of Dakhla and Laayoune in the disputed region of Western Sahara have witnessed massive development projects and international conferences, with Rabat continuing to invest considerable efforts in making the two cities part and parcel of the success of its newfound status as an African leader.
“The Moroccan Sahara is our country’s gateway to sub-Saharan Africa,” King Mohammed VI said in a much-celebrated speech last November. “I firmly intend to make Morocco a key player in shaping the Africa of the future.”