Morocco: King Tours Africa Countries, Gives New Impetus to South-South Cooperation

On March 15, King Mohammed VI will begin an African tour that will take him successively to Senegal, Ivory Coast and Gabon. This tour is formalized within the scope of historical relationships between the kingdom and these three countries where Morocco has "consolidated its position."

Strong feelings of unity exist between Moroccans and the peoples of Senegal, Ivory Coast and Gabon. The King's visit aims also to strengthen political and economic cooperation with these countries. Other important topics such the current situation in Mali and North Africa will be discussed on this occasion.

King Mohammed seeks to maintain close relations with many African countries such as Senegal, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Niger, Mali or Congo whose president, Denis Sassou Nguesso recently stated that African countries "will do everything for Morocco's return" to the African Union.

In February 2006, King Mohammed VI visited Gambia, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The tour was preceded in February 2005 by a trip to Gabon, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, in June 2004 in Benin, Gabon, Cameroon, Niger and Senegal.

Morocco was one of the first African states that have contributed to the establishment of the Organization of African Unity. However, Morocco pulled out of the then organization in 1984 to protest against the admission of the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic within the continental body. Since then, there have been increasing calls for Morocco to return to its natural place in the Union.

In fact, Morocco's membership in the African Union will also benefit regional and continental security. Currently, the region is facing the threat of terrorism. With Morocco's accession to the African Union, Maghreb and African countries would have at their disposal a trained army capable of fighting terrorism and the criminal trafficking of arms and drugs. Such a force could prevent terrorists from finding a safe haven in Africa.

With the return of Morocco to the AU, the African organization would gain more weight. Attitudes towards AU will change and it will become more rigorous. The Organization would gain a lot from Morocco's strategic partnership either with EU or with the United States. Now Morocco has launched key political, economic and social reforms that can benefit the whole African continent. The expertise and the know-how could be at the disposal of African governments, private enterprises and leading NGOs.

Morocco is determined to promote openness and democracy and to bring about peace and security to the whole continent. Therefore, the natural place for Morocco now, and within this current context of terrorist threat and economic challenges facing the continent, is in the African Union. Now the ball is in the AU court.

In recent years, Morocco has moved into the ranks of the economically developed countries where there is greater cooperation in the fields of banking, telecommunications, housing, commerce and industry. It also offers its expertise in infrastructure, public health, roads and education. It demonstrates great interest in national education by offering fellowships to African students.

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