Morocco wants to rejoin the African Union, 32 years after quitting the bloc in protest at its decision to accept Western Sahara as a member, King Mohammed VI. Morocco maintains that Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, is an integral part of the kingdom even though local Sahrawi people led by the Polisario Front have long campaigned for the right to self-determination.
“For a long time our friends have been asking us to return to them, so that Morocco can take up its natural place within its institutional family. The moment has now come,” the monarch said in a message sent to an AU summit taking place in Kigali. Morocco quit the AU in protest in 1984 when the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) was admitted as a member.
“Through this historic act and return, Morocco wants to work within the AU to transcend divisions,” he added.
In 1991, the United Nations brokered a ceasefire between Moroccan troops and Sahrawi rebels of the Algerian-backed independence movement the Polisario Front but a promised referendum to settle the status of the desert territory has yet to materialise.
In his address to the African Union, King Mohammed urged the bloc to rethink its position on the “phantom state” of Western Sahara, saying that a political solution was being worked on under the auspices of the UN.