Egypt : A Polisario delegation invited to an AU meeting attended by Morocco

Cairo is hosting the second meeting of the African Union Specialized Technical Committee on Transport, Transcontinental and Interregional Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism. The event is attended by Morocco's Secretary of State to Minister of Transport Najib Boulif and a Polisario delegation.

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The Moroccan delegation in an AU meeting in Egypt. / Ph. DR

As Egypt is currently hosting the second meeting of the African Union (AU) Specialized Technical Committee (STC-TTIIET) on Transport, Transcontinental and Interregional Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism, the Polisario Front announced that one of its representatives is attending the event.

According to the separatist movement’s press agency (SPS), the Front’s «secretary-general of transport ministry» Mohamed Youssef has taken part in the meeting held in Cairo in collaboration with the African Development Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union Development Agency.

The same AU meeting is organized to «address» common «challenges and agree on a way forward», said the African Union in a communiqué published on its official website. The event is attended by Ministers and experts from the AU Member States who are «responsible for the following sectors : Transport, Energy, Tourism and Infrastructure as well as representatives of Regional Economic Communities, African Union (AU) specialized institutions, international organizations, development partners, private sector and civil society dealing with energy, transport and tourism», the same source said.

An event attended by both Morocco and the Polisario

And as a member of the African Union, Morocco sent a delegation to Cairo. Secretary of State to Minister of Equipment, Transport, Logistics and Water, in charge of Transport Mohamed Najib Boulif headed the delegation, attending the African Union meeting in Egypt next to the Polisario.

Presiding the regional organization, Egypt has again allowed the presence of a separatist movement’s delegation to events it is hosting. A similar situation took place in October 2018. In fact, a reception hosted by the Egyptian diplomatic mission in Ethiopia to commemorate the 1973 Arab–Israeli War was interrupted by the presence of a Polisario delegation.

The Moroccan ambassador to Addis Ababa Nezha Alaoui M'hamdi, who was invited to the ceremony, notified the Egyptian diplomatic mission about the presence of a Polisario representative after withdrawing from the reception.

Replying to the situation, Egypt’s ambassador to Morocco Ashraf Ibrahim said that his country did not send an invitation to «the Polisario representative», recalling that Cairo does not recognize the «Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic».

In 2016, Egypt had even received a parliamentary delegation from the Tindouf camps, headed by Khatri Addouh. The separatist delegation attended, at the time, an Afro-Arab Parliamentary conference in Sharm el-Sheikh.

Before that, Egypt refused to sign a motion launched by Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba, on behalf of several African countries to remove the Polisario from the African Union. In 2015, an Egyptian delegation visited the Tindouf camps in an unprecedented move.

Moreover, at the Marrakech Conference which brought together the majority of the African Union member states, to support the UN process for the settlement of this conflict, Egypt preferred not to show up.

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