Morocco rejoins the African Union
Morocco has rejoined the African Union (AU) after 33 years as the organisation’s 55th member. This means that the AU has unified the continent again and now includes every country in Africa. Nonetheless, the dispute over the Western Sahara, which originally provoked Morocco to leave, remains unsolved. Morocco left the Organisation of African Unity (which later became the AU) in 1984 in protest of the admission of Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) to the body. Morocco only needed a simple majority to rejoin the AU. While 39 countries supported Morocco’s bid, nine countries voted against it. “From the moment that Morocco did not impose conditions ... we take their word for it and accept that Morocco be admitted to the African Union,” declared SADR Foreign Minister Mohamed Salem Ould Salek. The unconditional return is a clear success for Moroccan diplomacy. In an AU press release, King Mohammed VI of Morocco said that it was high time Morocco came back home. “Africa is indispensable to Morocco and Morocco is indispensable to Africa,” he declared. Beyond the Western Sahara dispute, Morocco’s decision to return to the AU is motivated by its desire to exercise influence within this African institution. Morocco has become an active player in support of the process of regional integration. It has concluded various bilateral cooperation agreements with West African countries, notably in agricultural sector investments. Plans to build a trans-African gas pipeline from West Africa through Morocco to supply Europe might finally be become a reality. Morocco also regularly contributes to African peacekeeping missions and supports intra-regional student mobility through scholarships for African students.