By Friday Nwosu
Morocco is seeking to be readmitted into the African Union thirty two (32) years after the country pulled out of the organization for recognizing the independence of Western Sahara which she described as its country’s southern province.
According to huffingtonpost.com, the country has officially submitted its request for reinstatement in the African Union.
The country was one of the founders of the Organization of African Unity, the predecessor of the present “Union.” It was in Casablanca that the OAU was first launched. As the group worked to conceptualize its mission and purpose, only Moroccan diplomats express reservations about the principle that the borders of African states inherited from colonialism should be inviolable. In doing so, they had the Sahara conflict in mind.
For more than three decades, Morocco has refused to be part of the organisation.
In March 2016, it threatened to pull its soldiers out of UN global peacekeeping missions because of the dispute.
Consequently the country had snubbed the Confederation of African Football (CAF) when the organization needed her the most. The North African country had refused to host the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations citing the possible spread of the Ebola Virus Disease in some part of West Africa.
The question now is should the African Union accept its request to be readmitted into the union she willingly abandoned 32 years ago and after she snubbed African nations in hosting the Cup of Nations? As she finally decided to let sleeping dog lie and let go of the southern province? This is even as the AU has said that it will continue pushing for the rights of the people of Western Sahara to hold a self-determination referendum.
CAF was swift to announce that it will go ahead with the tournament despite Morocco’s withdrawal and was quick to announce that Morocco will be penalized for withdrawing as hosts by being disqualified for the 2015 African Cup of Nations regardless of the new hosts.
The 2014 FIFA Club World Cup recently ended in Morocco with no communication concerning the spread of the Ebola virus to the host country, where locals, non-Africans and even Africans from the most affected West African region gathered across 10 days – from December 10 to 20 – to watch the club champions of the various continental confederations compete for the title.
More than 200,000 were in attendance, with an average of about 28,000 people per match. The crowds were certainly enough to trigger the fear of an Ebola outbreak in North Africa, yet not one single case was reported.
Those who supported Morocco for turning down hosting the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations might argue that Ebola did not appear in the Kingdom because teams from the countries where the disease is currently taking lives did not attend the competition.
However, would Morocco have also snubbed the Club World Cup if CAF’s club representatives were a Liberian team? ES Setif from Algeria represented the African continent while Moroccan champions Moghreb Tetouan participated as the host team.
Both clubs are from North Africa. The United Nations and the African Union had called on the lifting of travel bans imposed on visitors from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, where the disease has caused more than 7,500 deaths in 2014. In a recent speech, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon commented, “The world cannot grind to a halt because of the Ebola outbreak, and the more we cower from the disease and stigmatise people or regions on pretext, the more we heighten the general fear of the virus and scare away even potential health workers.”
Consequently, a number of countries restored regular flight schedules to the above West African countries, with neighbours reopening their borders to allow commercial exchanges as usual.
Officials in Equatorial Guinea have stated that they would not have accepted the hosting responsibility for the tournament if they had no means to fight against the spread of Ebola.
But Morocco possesses better health facilities and more specialist doctors than the tiny central African nation. So what was really the reason behind their refusal? Many people continue to ask that question.
Also, what will be African Union’s rationale for considering Morocco’s request, while the organization continually rejects Haiti that has expressed its desire to be part of the organization.
According to pbs.org, Haiti is unique from the rest of the Caribbean. Much of its culture and history is still directly linked to countries like Benin, Sierra Leone and Togo. Toussaint Louverture, who led Haiti’s rebellion against the French in 1791, was of Beninese descent. Haiti established itself as a symbol of black independence, and as an advocate for the liberation of Africa from colonial rule after becoming the first black country to join the United Nations in 1945.
But despite the Caribbean nation’s strong ties to the continent, it will instead remain an observing member in the African Union. Haiti has held an observer status since 2012 but petitioned to be an associate member that same year. The petition has never been ratified. Instead, the African Union may vote to establish what it calls a “6th region,” comprised of delegates from all over the world representing the African diaspora.
African Union Commission had, had to inform the public that Haiti will not be admitted as a Member State of the African Union (AU) in its summit held in Kigali, Rwanda, as erroneously reported by several media outlets.
According to Article 29.1 of the AU’s Constitutive Act, only African States can join the African Union.
Given the importance that the AU accords to the African Diaspora, it has developed strong cooperation with sister States in the Caribbean region and citizens of African descent around the world.
The AU was pleased to welcome Haiti’s President Michel Martelly and his Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe to its Summits in the past as Special Guests, and the AU had a high level delegation at the celebrations of the 200th Anniversary of Haiti in Port-au-Prince, in 2004.
The AU Commission has a Directorate of Citizens and Diaspora Organisations (CIDO), bestowed with the responsibility to facilitate direct peoples’ involvement through Civil Society Organisations from Africa or the Africa Diaspora that wish to interact with the African Union as the “sixth region” of Africa. The proposed 6th Region made of the African Diaspora still awaits ratification by AU Member States.
Worthy of notice is a special Summit organized in Johannesburg, South Africa, in May 2012, to deepen the relationship between the AU and the African Diaspora. The conclusions of the Summit are in the process of being implemented.
Now, will the Africa Union still standup Haiti despite its interest in being part of the union and absorb Morocco back into its fold despite its snub of the union.