Africa : Since 2001, Morocco has been moving slowly up in CEN-SAD

Long before joining the African Union, Morocco had showed interest in the CEN-SAD since 2001 to extend its influence on the continent. After the fall of Gaddafi, in September 2011, Morocco has strengthened its presence in the regional grouping.

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The Extraordinary Summit of Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) began Saturday, April 13, in N'Djamena, the Chadian capital.

Since 2001, Morocco has been a member of this regional group, which brings together 28 states from the Maghreb, ECOWAS, COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) and the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) in East Africa. This diversity brings strength and wealth to the organization, which was the main motive behind its launching by former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 1998.

Since its accession in 2001, the Kingdom had adopted a low-profile approach, knowing that the CEN-SAD was considered as the turf of the «Libyan guide». After his demise in 2011, Morocco has slowly but surely attempted to breathe new life into the institution.

Morocco has allowed the refoundation of CEN-SAD

On June 11, 2012, the Moroccan capital hosted a special session of the Executive Council of the Community. The question of its refoundation was the main point on the agenda for the concerned parties. The meeting was concluded with a «Rabat Declaration», a real roadmap setting out the reforms to be implemented in the years to come.

Admittedly, the Kingdom had taken things in hand but the country was also careful not to offend the perceived successor of Gaddafi in the area, namely Chadian president Idriss Deby. Moreover, it conceded to Chad the hosting of the events leading to the signature of the revised treaty during the March 2013 Extraordinary Summit of the regional grouping.

In November 2013, Morocco organized the CEN-SAD Regional Conference on Strengthening Border Security between the countries of the Sahel and the Maghreb. The following year, the group's summit was held in Rabat.

Currently, the context has changed. The strong man of N'Djamena, holding power since 1990, is no longer at the height of his glory. In February, his regime faltered because of an attack from a group stationed in Libya. An air intervention led by the French has «allowed altogether to neutralize about twenty pick-up trucks», a statement from the French Defense minister said.

And yet, Chad was considered, just a few years ago, as one of the major military forces in the West African region. Indeed, the country was a spearhead in the war against Boko Haram while Nigeria and Cameroon were struggling against its menace : it was the Chadian army that slowed the expansion of the terrorist group in 2015 in the area.

This Saturday, April 13, Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Nasser Bourita delivered a message from King Mohammed VI to the Chadian President. The day before, Chad's Deputy Secretary General for the Presidency, Hissein Brahim Taha, visited Rabat.

This consolidation of the diplomatic ties is also a blow to Algeria, Morocco’s main competitor in Africa, which is also not a member of the CEN-SAD.

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