Morocco’s return to the African Union after a 33-year absence is being greeted with joy at home where it is seen as a diplomatic triumph that will help the country regain its position as a leader on the continent.
The re-admission is also seen as a personal success for King Mohammed VI, who for the last few years has been on countless visits to sub-Saharan Africa, signing nearly 1,000 cooperation agreements since 2000, and projecting his country as a friend and significant investor on the continent.
Speaking in Addis Ababa after the decision was taken, the King said: “It is so good to be back home, after having been away for too long. It is a good day when you can show your affection for your beloved home. Africa is my continent, and my home”.
“I am home at last and happily reunited with you. I have missed you all. That is why, my dear brothers, Heads of State, I wanted to make this trip and to address you, without waiting for the protocol and legal procedure for the Kingdom to take its place again within the Organisation to be finalised.”
“The massive, outspoken support Morocco has received is proof of the solid bonds that unites us. It was necessary to withdraw from the OAU; it has enabled Morocco’s action to be refocused in Africa to show how indispensable Africa is to Morocco and how indispensable Morocco is to Africa”, King Mohamed VI had said.
The key to the turnaround in Morocco’s relations with the AU appears to have been its targeting of particularly West African and Francophone African countries in recent years. Moroccan companies have been on an aggressive ‘going out’ policy, from phosphate giant OCP signing deals to provide fertilisers to help African farmers, to banks such as Attijariwafa opening at least 3,500 branches across Africa, to telecoms and even car insurance companies offering new products and services.
Many African leaders have welcomed the development, after seeing the true intention of Morocco which is to integrate and share its resources with the whole of Africa.
Guinean President and Chairman of the African Union (AU), Alpha Conde, joined in paying a tribute to HM King Mohammed VI, whilst hailing the content of the speech delivered by the Sovereign before the African summit.
Conde, who was speaking at the closing ceremony of the 28th AU Summit, said that HM the King “spoke with his heart” at a time when “Africa must take its destiny into its own hands”.
The Guinean President, who will hold the Presidency of the AU for the next twelve months, noted that the pan-African organisation “must rely on its own forces” to meet the many challenges ahead.
Similarly, Chadian President Idriss Déby joined other African leaders to hail the return of Morocco to the African Union (AU).
President Idriss Deby of Chad believes it was a move long overdue. He said:
“It is with great joy that we have welcomed the decision of HM King Mohammed VI to return” to the African institutional family. Morocco’s return to the African Union family is awesome because we have missed her weighty contributions,” he noted, adding that “Morocco is a very big African country that we have missed for 33 years.”
“The return of Morocco adds value to our union and our continent,” the Chadian President pointed out.
An overwhelming majority of African countries voted in favour of Morocco’s return to the African Union (AU), during the 28th Summit of African Heads of State and Government.
The European Union (EU) also expressed its keenness to work with Morocco in order to consolidate the EU’s growing partnership with Africa, after the return of the Kingdom to the African Union (AU). The spokesman of the EU said he was looking forward to a robust relationship with the rich African country.
“We look forward to working with the African Union and Morocco to strengthen the EU’s growing partnership with Africa,” said the spokesman of the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini.
The African Union and Morocco are “key partners” for the European Union, he said, noting that “regional cooperation and integration are crucial for prosperity, stability and peace.”
For the EU, the return of Morocco to the AU “brings together the entire African continent within its regional organization,” he added.