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Morocco back into African Union after 33-year

ADDIS ABABA: After an emotional and tense debate, member states decided by consensus to leave the question of the disputed territory of Western Sahara for another day, and resolve it with Morocco “back in the family.” “From the moment that Morocco did not impose conditions … we take their word for it and accept that Morocco be admitted to the African Union,” said Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, foreign minister of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which claims sovereignty over the entire territory of Western Sahara. Morocco quit the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1984 after the bloc admitted the former Western Sahara as a separate member. Some had feared Morocco would demand the expulsion of the SADR as a precondition for its own return to the AU. Morocco maintains that the former Spanish colony under its control is an integral part of the kingdom, while the Polisario Front, which campaigns for the territory´s independence, demands a referendum on self-determination. Salek said that having Morocco in the same room would allow the SADR to pressure them into fulfilling their obligations and allowing a referendum in accordance with a 1975 decision by the International Court of Justice. Delegates attending the summit in the Ethiopian capital described an emotional and tense discussion, with heavyweights like Algeria and South Africa against the re-admission of Morocco. “Morocco is now a full member of the African Union. There was a very long debate but 39 of our 54 states approved the return of Morocco, even if the Western Sahara question remains,” Senegalese President Macky Sall told journalists. “As we have said, if the family grows bigger, we can find solutions as a family,” he added. Morocco has been angling to return to the AU for several years and King Mohammed VI formally announced his intention to do so in July last year. Since then he has criss-crossed the continent lobbying for support.Morocco is increasingly looking southwards to expand its economy and has realised it cannot drive an agenda on the continent without being in the AU, observers say.–Agencies

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