5th AU-EU summit : Morocco's first major challenge ten months after joining the AU

Last March in Dakar, Morocco protested against the presence of a Polisario delegation at a meeting organized by the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the AU. Would it be interesting for Morocco to adopt the same position in Abidjan ? Details.

King Mohammed VI at the AU summit in Addis Ababa./Ph. DR
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The 5th AU-EU summit is a challenging event for the Moroccan diplomacy, ten months after formally joining the African Union. The Kingdom is indeed in an uncomfortable position.

Accepting the presence of a Polisario delegation on the 29th and 30th of November in Abidjan would be misunderstood by the states of the continent that backed Rabat during the 10th annual meeting, the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the AU, held in March in Dakar. For the record, in the Senegalese capital, Morocco had strongly protested against the participation of a Polisario delegation, arguing that «SADR» is a separatist movement that is unrecognized by the United Nations.

In Dakar, Morocco's position was supported by the legal adviser of the African Economic Commission. On the other hand, Algeria and South Africa were there to defend the Front. Finally, without compromising and after two days of discussions, the ECA-AU meeting was postponed to a later date.

Would Rabat change its strategy in Abidjan ?

Two weeks before the AU-EU summit, Morocco prefers to remain silent. Official TV channels avoid addressing the issue. This is confirmed through a communique issued by the Royal cabinet after King Mohammed VI held talks with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat.

Reacting in the same way as last year would create more tension as the separatist movement had already warned the AU members against the consequences of Morocco's admission to the continental organization.

«The kingdom has an interest in unifying Africans and getting closer to the states that still support the Polisario. With the exception of Algeria, Morocco is able to shake some of the separatist movement's alliances especially those that strengthen its presence in the AU. This is done through ratifying the charters of several African Union commissions while avoiding a confrontation,» says a source who requested anonymity.

«The mandates of Pretoria and Algiers to the Peace and Security Council, which will expire on March 31, 2018, should in principle benefit Morocco. Also the timing of the presidential elections in South Africa in 2019 shall have the same effect».

Obviously, by integrating the African Union; Morocco knew that the Polisario would not be expelled immediately. This process, if successful, will be long and difficult.