31 January 2017

Africa: Zim Against Readmission of Morocco Into AU

Photo: The Citizen
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe and several like-minded countries were opposed to Morocco's immediate readmission into the African Union for as long as it continues to colonise the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.

Morocco colonised the SADR which it calls Western Sahara in 1975 soon after that country had gained independence from Spain.

Since then, Morocco has claimed ownership of the territory, suppressing the Polisario Front and marginalising the general citizenry of the SADR.

The then OAU recognised the SADR as a sovereign territory in 1982, prompting Morocco to pull out of the bloc two years later.

Last year at the AU's mid-term Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, Morocco's King Mohammed VI formally asked for readmission.

However, the kingdom maintains it has a right to occupy the SADR and will not allow decolonisation even if it is readmitted into the continental fold.

Instead, Morocco is seen to be seeking to use readmission as another lever with which to exert further control over the SADR.

Morocco has been on a diplomatic blitz over the past half-year to get African leaders to back its return to the AU.

A simple majority is required for a decision to carry the day, and that was a key matter African leaders were debating yesterday as the 28th Ordinary Summit of the AU opened in Addis Ababa.

President Mugabe has over the decades been steadfast about his Government's backing for Saharawi independence.

As Morocco told the international media that it had the backing of 40 African leaders, a group of like-minded, pro-sovereignty AU members met ahead of the Summit to consolidate positions.

Senior diplomats from Zimbabwe, Algeria, Uganda, South Africa, Namibia and other countries deliberated on Morocco's bid and the SADR's plight.

Sources said the countries were adamant that nothing had changed since 1982 when the bloc accepted the SADR, 1984 when Morocco left in a huff, and today.

"If Morocco wants to be a member of the African Union, it has to accede to the principles of the African Union," said a Zimbabwean official.

"They have to accept the boundaries that were there at independence, and those boundaries show the SADR and Morocco as distinct, sovereign territories."

The official added: "Nothing has changed. They remain illegally in occupation of a sovereign African country and no amount of Moroccan propaganda will move us from this position."

Zimbabwe

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