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African Union : Nasser Bourita downsizes the Polisario’s membership of AfCFTA

In Niamey (Niger), Foreign Affairs Minister Nasser Bourita reassured Moroccans about the Kingdom’s new membership of the African Free Trade Agreement Area, joined by the Polisario Front. Joining AfCFTA should not be interpreted as an acknowledgement of an entity that threatens the Kingdom’s territorial integrity, Bourita said.

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Foreign Affairs Minister Nasser Bourita. / Ph. DR

To convey a message, it is sometimes important to insist. In the case of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the message conveyed was that Morocco’s membership of the African Free Trade Agreement Area (AfCFTA), a project with the goal of creating a single market followed by free movement and an African single-currency union, shouldn’t be seen as an «endorsement» to the Polisario Front. On Sunday, the Ministry issued a statement in which Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita addressed AfCFTA and Morocco’s membership.

«Morocco has strongly adhered to the exercise of establishing the AfCFTA, but its signature and ratification of this agreement cannot be interpreted as an acknowledgement of a situation, fact or entity that does not recognize and threatens its territorial integrity and national unity», the Minister said.

In the same communiqué, Bourita referred to «SADR», the self-proclaimed and unrecognized «republic», which signed AfCFTA on 21 March 2018 in Kigali, at the 10th Extraordinary Session of the African Union. The separatist movement is also one of the parties that ratified the African Free Trade Agreement.

The Polisario is the 3rd member to sign AfCFTA

By the same token, Nasser Bourita argued that «if this entity is going to trade from Tindouf, it will be internal trade in another African Union country, Algeria (…) with what currency will this entity do it? If this trade will take place, it will be with the Algerian currency».

Further explanations were issued Monday by the Ministry. «When ratifying the convention establishing AfCFTA, Morocco voiced its firm and clear position, so that this commitment is neither misunderstood nor interpreted as an acknowledgment of an entity that is not recognized by the United Nations», the same source said.

The recent statements go hand in hand with the position voiced by Morocco before the ratification of the Free Trade Agreement. On February 22, the Minister of Relations with the Parliament Mustapha El Khalfi told media that «signing AfCFTA by Morocco shouldn’t be interpreted as an acknowledgment of the situation of an entity that is not recognized by the Kingdom», referring to «SADR».

Indeed, the mere presence of representatives from the Polisario during continental meetings have provoked Morocco several times in the past.

However, Morocco is trying recently to reinforce its presence within the continental organization. In January 2017, the presence of «SADR» within the AU did not prevent the government from adopting the Constitutive Act of the African Union.

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