Morocco's African Union: After Ten Months
Tuesday, November 21st, 2017: The School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS) at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane (AUI) recently organized a public lecture entitled “Maroc-Union Africaine: Bilan après 10 mois de retrouvailles” (Morocco and the African Union: An Appraisal 10 Months After Joining). During the lecture, M. Oumar Baldé—a journalist for “Les Inspiration Eco”, an economist, and a specialist in African studies—summarized the journey Morocco undertook in order to join to the African Union.
M. Baldé began his address by discussing the origins of Morocco’s departure from the African Union, a phenomenon he traced back to the so called “Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic’s admission in 1984. In accordance with Union regulations, Morocco had to publically recognize the Sahrawi State’s legitimacy along with some of the main events that enumerate the conflict that spans the last few decades.
Morocco was one of the Union of African States’ (U.A.S.) founding countries, which, decades later, was dissolved into the African Union following the signing of the [TREATY] in 2001. Over the years, Morocco would become one of the largest investors in the continent with investments totalling a little over 4 Billion dirhams ($438,320,000), more than 90% of Morocco’s direct foreign investments. Through these investments—and perhaps due to their historic withdrawal from the U.A.S.—Morocco was able to establish an economic presence throughout the continent, rather than a political one. However, as Morocco attempted to resolve its conflict with the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, officials realized that a political influence would necessarily need to be exerted given the nature of the conflict.
This was Morocco’s primary incentive for joining the African Union: the empty chair polity proved to be inefficient.
To say that this process wasn’t been smooth is to speak euphemistically. When Morocco began the process of admissions, many obstacles began to arise given that many African nations—notably Algeria, South Africa, and a few other Anglophone countries.. However, , Morocco succeeded in obtaining the votes of 39 nations, thereby gaining both a majority and admission. In his acceptance speech, King Mohammed VI assured the public that “Morocco is not here to divide, rather, it is here to unite”.
The most recent European Union-African Union (EU-AU) Summit heeded exceptional socio-political results: the Moroccan delegation, led by the King Mohammed VI, sat down with the so called Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic for the first time at such a summit. In a conflict which M. Baldé compared to an arm wrestling match (“Bras de fer“), both parties—and their allies—attempted to legitimize their respective sovereignties over the Western Saharan territory in front of the summit’s international audience.
The journey that Morocco has undertaken in order to join the African Union has been long and interesting, and M. Baldé captivatingly presented it as such to the AUI students.