Morocco's 'great comeback' in Africa

Sahara issue remains but Rabat eyes economy, diplomacy

03 February, 14:33

    (ANSAmed) - RABAT, FEBRUARY 3 - Morocco is back in the African Union after leaving in 1984. The issue is whether it can say that it has won the battle for Western Sahara. On a symbolic standpoint, it has but the political issues remain.

    ''The day in which you go back home is beautiful after too long an absence! I have missed you all!'', were the first words of King Mohammed VI who has been building a diplomatic network since 2016 for this moment.

    De facto, nothing changes for the country, unlike the European Union where membership has direct consequences for the economy or, for example, the exchange of goods and travelling.

    But the king's speech at the end of the summit was deemed ''historic''.

    Algeria remains quiet for the moment.

    The key issue is the relationship between Morocco and the Polisario front.

    The entry of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) - only partly recognized by the international community - was the reason Morocco left in 1984. At the time, the king was Hassan II, father of the current sovereign and the AU was called Organization of the African Union.

    Before coming back, Morocco did all it could to exclude the SADR.

    Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, Sahrawi foreign minister who welcomed Morocco was more diplomatic, urging ''all African states to cooperate so that the two countries regulate their conflicts''.

    Some predict harsher tones soon. Others, on the contrary, say the comeback is like the fall of the Berlin wall at an African level, ''the end of ideologies connected to the cold war''.

    No conditions were set for Rabat to return and the Sahara issue remains hot.

    The desert occupies 80% of the Sahrawi territory that Morocco considers as its province.

    SADR for its part plays the card of ''Africa's last colonized territory''.

    Morocco however looks farther. With 46 visits to African countries since 2000, the mobilization of all economic, diplomatic and religious resources and about 1,000 accords in various cooperation sectors, Africa is at the center of the attention of this king with some even talking about a sort of neo-colonialism. (ANSAmed)
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