Will the return of Morocco in the African Union undermine this fragile organization?

King of Morocco, His Majesty Mohammed VI, in a letter delivered to the Chadian Idriss Deby, the president of the pan-African organization, reaffirmed his commitment to see Morocco reinstate the African Union. The question is whether the return of Morocco in the African Union will not undermine the already fragile organization.

In his letter, the Moroccan king addressed to his peers of the African family as a small-son of His Majesty King Mohammed V, who was one of the founders alongside Jamal Abdel Nasser, Presidents Ferhat Abbes, Modibo Keita, Sekou Toure, Kwame N’Kruma, of the « historical Casablanca Conference 1961 « . Then as the son of His Majesty King Hassan II, who attended the same year, the Conference of colonies liberation movements under Portuguese rule in Africa, patiently contributed to the stability of many regions of our continent and strengthened the friendship and brotherhood ties with many African countries. And he does finally as the king of an African country.

He recalled that even no longer a member of the AU, Morocco has never separated from Africa. While specifying « the important involvement of Moroccan operators and their strong presence in the field of banking, insurance, air transport, telecommunications and housing, which make of the Kingdom at present the first African investor in West Africa and the second largest investor in the continent.  »

Mohammed VI explains that Morocco, left the OAU in 1984, in particular

circumstances, « the recognition of a pseudo state was hard to accept by the Moroccan people. » Mohammed VI describes this episode as an « injury » and « attack

against the international legality » as well as a « deception » , »a comparable act to a statutory rape, the OAU being a teenager at that time ».

The return of Morocco is accompanied by a royal maneuver to the removal of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). That’s why 28 of the 54 heads of member states of the African Union presented, Monday, July 18, 2016, to Idriss Deby, Chadian president  head of the AU, a request for the  reintegration of Morocco, while demanding the suspension of the SADR within the organization. Among these countries, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, but also Zambia, who removed in June 2016, its recognition of the SADR.

However, the withdrawal of the SADR, if Morocco reinstates the African Union, will not be automatic, since Morocco has to bring together 36 countries in requesting the suspension of the SADR knowing that the exclusion of a member is not in the statutes of the AU.

Algeria’s reaction was not made to wait since three days after the signing of a motion by the 28 countries, requesting the exclusion of the SADR, the Algerian Minister of the African Union, Abdelkader Messahel, announced that, it was not a return for Morocco, but a new membership since the country had left the organization thirty-two years ago , named OAU at that time. Moreover, he had specified in his statement considered as an official reaction of Algeria, that if Morocco wants to return, it would be, in any case without conditions.

Since this event and while some African countries near Rabat are lobbying behind the scenes to speed up the process of the return of the kingdom, it is the radio silence in Algiers. Some observers bet on a rise in power of the African diplomatic scene and  a change in the Algerian side, as well as  the adoption of a strategic plan designed to derail the initiative of Morocco.

This face-to-face between Morocco and Algeria is likely to erode, forever, the African continental institution putting it face to  an agonizing dilemma: yield to  the Moroccan sirens and cause the Algerian anger or resist to the temptation and lose the opportunity to see Morocco resume its seat. The days and months ahead will enlighten us.


By Mohamed Ould Sidi Ould Abba Jeilany, president of the Sahel Centre for the expertise and counsel.

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