Was Morocco’s AU readmission a mistake? King Mohammed VI

Gibson Nyikadzino Correspondent

The just-ended 8th Summit of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in Tunisia last week presents value-based opportunities for countries that are driven by the pan-African ethos to measure the sincerity of Morocco as an African Union (AU) member.

Developments that happened, as having been triggered by Morocco, are a shameless script that Morocco exhibit to the world over its position against the presence of the leader of the Polisario Front that is pushing for the self-rule of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).

The presence of SADR at the TICAD summit infuriated Morocco that it had to recall its ambassador to Tunis for “consultation”, as it later cancelled its participation at the investment conference.

To understand the actions of Morocco, one has to understand the events that happened a week before the summit when the country’s ruler, King Mohammed VI, was filmed stumbling drunk in the streets of Paris, France.

He owns a palace near the Eiffel Tower.

The master got drunk

A trending video shows King Mohammed VI drunk and staggering while in Paris. Members of his security are also seen trying to stop people from filming the disappointing moment from the Moroccan monarch. As he staggered, the king was still holding his bottle of alcoholic drink.

There is also a view that since his divorce with Princess Lalla Salma, King Mohammed VI has not been himself as the family structure that has been supporting him since 2002 has collapsed.

More information that has been left in the public domain is pointing to the direction that the video of the drunken monarch was leaked by members of a secret service from a European country, who are keen to show the world that King Mohammed VI is not what he appears to be.

Scripted row to  influence opinion

Ahead of TICAD on August 27 and 28, Morocco triggered a diplomatic row with Tunisia over the participation of SADR.

As a principle, SADR had the right to attend the TICAD summit like any other member of the AU because it has been one since 1984, when Morocco pulled out in protest, and tried to join the then European Economic Community (ECC) until it was turned down.

SADR was at the 7th TICAD summit last held in 2019, and Japan has and had no problem with its attendance as TICAD is an institutional and multilateral conference whose invitation is open to all AU members.

The TICAD summit is one of the most important international forums for development cooperation between African countries, Japan and international bodies.

Moroccan representatives tried in vain to convince all the African delegations of the need to exclude SADR by advancing vain arguments that “the partnership linking the African countries to Japan does not fall within the framework of the AU.”

Institutionally, at an AU meeting that took place in July in Lusaka, Zambia, the member states had a binding resolution that SADR had to attend TICAD.

The AU, besides sharing solidarity and pan-Africanism, is also governed by values of cooperation among member states to advance the interests of the body. What is bound at institutional level should be reflected by member states.

Like what the AU has done in the case of the EU-Africa dialogue regards its member states, they should all attend. This explains why President Mnangagwa has been to Brussels.

To Morocco, it wanted to politicise a multilateral summit and present it like a bilateral issue to the AU. This therefore befits the reason why Morocco recalled its ambassador.

Firstly, the recall, which followed video of a drunk King Mohammed VI in Paris, was a prepared domestic narrative in which the Rabat monarchist government deliberately rolled out to divert regional attention to cover the behaviour of its king.

Besides trying to destabilise North Africa, Morocco did so to try and influence public opinion domestically and specifically in the Arab world that the position by the AU to support SADR did not tally with its foreign policy that it says is anchored on maintaining dominion over SADR.

Secondly, while influencing public opinion, King Mohammed VI also understood that his position as the leader of the Jewish-Arab committee would be tainted by the leaked video hence he had to find a way to atone his actions since his 2020 normalisation bandwagon with Israel.

Provocation and a misleading portrayal

Last year, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) head Laura Palatini said that “Morocco is one of the few countries that stands as a model for managing immigration problems and the civilised treatment of foreigners, while offering a dignified life.”

Palatini presented Morocco as a reformer. But this idealistic portrayal has proven to be misleading.

The deaths of 37 African migrants in Melilla, Spain, on June 24 through Spanish-Morocco collusion underline Morocco’s authoritarian security policy against African migrants.

Such a tragedy received little or no condemnation from the EU because, aided by European funds, Morocco in turn is rewarded with silence in the face disasters like at Melilla.

Since its readmission to the AU in 2017 after 39 AU members voted to make it the body’s 55th member, Morocco through its behaviour has been advancing an anti-African agenda and preserve the interests of the West by playing an ally-card of the US and the EU; ill-treating and in other cases killing African immigrants to protect the interests of the EU by being used as a buffer to curtail the influx of Africans into Europe.

This is taking place as a result of Morocco’s long-standing role as an EU partner in the region’s western Mediterranean migration policy, which aims to stop undocumented migrants from leaving Morocco’s territory for Spain, a course of action that is frequently condemned for not being compliant with international law.

This is happening because Morocco has traditionally acted as a partner to the EU in its migration policy in the western Mediterranean, with the aim of preventing irregular migrants from leaving the country’s territory for Spain.

A policy that is repeatedly criticised as hardly compatible with international law.

African because of values

As the continent quests for the right path to Agenda 2063, it is imperative to highlight that what makes the AU a continental body is more to do with Africa’s values and architecture of pan-Ubuntuism than it is to do with geography.

Geography alone should not be used to embrace a country as African because Morocco has always, for a long time, thought of fulfilling the European and American agenda than upholding Africa’s values.

In all matters, Africa needs a unitary voice that has a say in this changing world, to both members and outsiders.

To demolish the unity that was formulated in fighting colonialism at this moment is an initiative that will only benefit those plotting against the continent.

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