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28th AU Summit-President Faure takes groundbreaking stance on Morocco’s readmission

28th AU Summit-President Faure takes groundbreaking stance on Morocco’s readmission

01.02.2017

President Danny Faure took a reconciliatory stance during the debate on the readmission into the African Union at the 28th Ordinary Session of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa which ends today January 31st. He vented the view that the readmission of the Kingdom of Morocco into the AU represented a historic opportunity for the resolution of the Western Sahara issue that has been dragging for decades.

In a brief intervention during the heated and protracted on the first day of the 28th AU Summit that took place in Nelson Mandela Plenary Hall at the AU Headquarters on Monday afternoon, President Faure likened AU to a family and the Kingdom of Morocco and the non self-governing territory of Western Sahara to members of that family. As such, he explained the issue of the future of Western Sahara, which is been seeking self-determination, should be dealt with like a family dispute, in a fair manner that   satisfies both family members.

This forward-looking and ground breaking stance espoused by President Faure was echoed by the majority of other AU member-states which argued that getting Morocco inside AU will facilitate the resolution of the western Sahara question. Morocco won the endorsement of 39 of the 52 member-states of AU who voted which means it wooed more than the qualified majority of two thirds to be readmitted into the AU, making it the 55th member-state of the pan-African body.

The readmission of the Kingdom of Morocco into AU spurred the heated debate because it presented “serious legal challenges to AU”, as the Office of its Legal Counsel pointed out in a legal opinion on the matter. The legal challenges stemmed from the fact that Western Sahara, which is recognized as a non self-governing territory, by the United Nations is a member-state of AU just like Morocco which occupies it. This situation makes Morocco’s admission into AU incompatible with the Constitution of the latter, its Constitutive Act, as well as other legal instruments of the AU, like the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), and the United Nations Charter. Its readmission without a resolution of the Western Sahara question also represents a violation of international law.

The incompatibility of Morocco’s readmission into AU with its Constitutive Act and  ACHPR stem from the fact that the former calls for respect of the international frontiers inherited from colonization while the latter includes the right to self-determination  as one of the fundamental human and people’s rights it protects and promotes. The countries espousing the forward-looking stance like Seychelles argued that these incompatibilities will now be ironed out since by rejoining AU the Kingdom of Morocco has taken the moral obligation to uphold the word and spirit of the Constitutive Act which implies holding a referendum on the self-determination of Western Sahara and retreating to its international frontiers inherited from colonization.

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