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Moroccan interests have recently been treated much more favorably within the African Union, but how good is that? We shed some light on this new state

Do the stars align for Moroccan diplomacy regarding Western Sahara? The kingdom ended 2020 on a good note: Donald Trump recognized the country’s sovereignty over the disputed territory and a number of African countries including Burkina Faso, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic, the Comoros, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe and Zambia open consulates in the Saharan cities of Dakhla and Laâyoune

In 2021, the winds of Baraka (which means ‘blessing’ in Arabic) continue to blow strong, particularly on the continent where the recent elections to the African Union (AU) brought a more pro-Moroccan group of leaders to power have

However, the country is currently not represented among the eight commissioners elected by the AU Executive Council Neither Hassan Abouyoub, Morocco’s candidate for the Commissioner for Peace and Security, nor Mohamed Sadiki, the Commissioner in charge of the Rural Economy and Agriculture Commissioner, made the cut

Nonetheless, Félix Tshisekedi, the current President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo – a country on friendly terms with the kingdom and has thrown its support behind Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara – has taken over the leadership of the rotating presidency of the AU

And another victory for the kingdom was Algerian diplomat Smaïl Chergui, who for the past four years headed the Peace and Security Council (PSC), the AU’s decision-making body responsible for conflict management and resolution Years was replaced by Nigeria’s Bankole Adeoye

Given Nigeria’s support for the Polisario Front in the past, Adeoye’s election victory wasn’t exactly good news for Rabat, but Abuja has significantly softened its stance on Western Sahara

President Muhammadu Buhari is now taking a neutral position on the conflict and prefers to concentrate on major development projects with Morocco, such as the construction of a gas pipeline that connects the two countries

Several AU sources described Adeoye as “someone who is politically minded and has authority over all [peace and security] matters,” thanks to his previous experience as Nigeria’s permanent representative to the organization

Most importantly, his priorities are different from those of his predecessor Chergui. While the former peace and security commissioner was obsessed with the Western Sahara issue, the focus of Adeoye’s agenda is elsewhere: eradicating Boko Haram, promoting peace in the Sahel, and containment of extremism

In other words, as several observers commented, the AU’s new leadership cohort will at least be more “neutral” than the last. In addition, it doesn’t hurt that South Africa no longer holds the rotating presidency, as Morocco has frequently accused the country of being against its Interests to work in Western Sahara

When the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa took office as AU Chairman in February 2020, he dedicated a considerable part of his speech to the “right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination” His party, the African National Congress (ANC), has supported the Polisario Front in the past and regrets the attempt by the United States to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara

According to Khadija Mohsen-Finan, a Moroccan political analyst and expert on issues relating to North Africa and the Mediterranean, the kingdom rejoined the AU in 2017 with the clear goal of “booting the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic [SADR] from the bodies of the organization “This did not happen, however, and if SADR were kicked out in the future, it would take much longer than a year as an amendment to the AU founding law would be required

The kingdom has since changed direction and launched a new strategy in which countries individually lobbying to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara and thereby circumvent African and international institutions. “The African countries south of the Sahara, those who opened consulates in Dakhla did not go through the AU to do so, “said Mohsen-Finan

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And does the Pan-African Organization have leverage in this matter? “The answer is no,” said Malian legal expert and international legal specialist Ilo Allaye Diall. “From a legal point of view, the AU cannot do anything about it. The UN alone has the power to resolve the conflict. Currently, only around 20 of 54 African countries recognize SADR

As things stand today, Morocco can easily rely on the fact that not a single AU member state – even among the supporters of SADR – should strongly reject its interests.On the contrary, Massatoma Traoré, political scientist at the Université des Sciences Juridiques et Politiques de Bamako ( USJPB), stated: “We are no longer in the same situation as when Morocco left the AU in 1984. Nobody is taking a radical, confrontational approach Apart from Algeria, every member state diplomatically plans to offer the kingdom an olive branch. Everyone has withdrawn”

If the Member States are interested in maintaining relations with Morocco, its considerable economic power and resources contribute, as the whole continent can benefit from it

The Kingdom is also capitalizing on these strengths by prioritizing economic development in the AU. The country’s representatives are often described as particularly active and involved on this front, and their technical expertise is valued by the institution’s various committees / p>

In this sense, the opening of consulates in Dakhla and Laâyoune is about more than just the sovereignty of Morocco over the Western Sahara. Due to their geographical location, the Sahara provinces are the main gateway to sub-Saharan Africa and the entry point for the vast majority Majority of food shipments from Europe real economic opportunities

In addition, Western Sahara is a much more stable border crossing than Algeria and Libya. “It is attracting great interest as it is strategically located near the Sahel, an area over which France and its allies continue to have a monopoly whose stability is essential for Africa and Europe, “said Diall. The question remains, which country will open a consulate next

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World news – FI – This year’s AU could work to the advantage of Morocco over Western Sahara

Source: https://www.theafricareport.com/67550/this-years-au-could-work-to-moroccos-advantage-over-western-sahara/