Morocco says more African states back bid to rejoin AU

AFP , Sunday 29 Jan 2017

An AU summit
File Photo: A general view shows the opening session of Heads of States and Government of the African Union on the case of African relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, October 11, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Morocco has obtained the "unconditional support" of 42 members of the 54-strong African Union to rejoin the bloc at a summit which opens Monday, a senior Moroccan diplomat said.

AU member states are expected to mull Morocco's bid to rejoin during a two-day summit in Addis Ababa, and elect a new chairperson.

Morocco quit the bloc 33 years ago to protest the AU's decision to accept Western Sahara as a member, but it now wants back in and King Mohammed VI has been criss-crossing the continent lobbying for support.

"We've received the official backing of Ghana. This brings to 42 the number of countries that unconditionally support Morocco," the diplomat told AFP Sunday from Addis Ababa.

Morocco's return could be a financial boon for the bloc, which relies on foreign donors for some 70 percent of its budget, according to the Institute for Security Studies.

But heavyweights such as Algeria and South Africa have been lobbying hard to keep Morocco out.

Both countries back the fight for self-determination by Western Sahara's Polisario independence movement.

Morocco maintains that the former Spanish colony, which it annexed in 1975, is an integral part of the kingdom.

United Nations resolutions have called for a referendum on self-determination in the disputed territory.

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