For the second time, the Kingdom of Morocco failed to impose its colonial agenda on the African Union during the meetings held in capitals of the closest friends of Rabat. After failing to obstruct the Saharawi participation, (even though only with the name and flag of the SADR) in Malabo last year, Morocco failed again to impede the Saharawi participation in a joint ECA-AUC meeting in Dakar, Senegal. Furthermore, all the attendees, without exception, were surprised by the Moroccan diplomacy’s childish behaviors and zealous attempts to impose things that none can accept.
In this brief text, I will present some details about what happened, and try to draw the most important conclusions, which I consider as important and meaningful from this incident that revealed to everyone, even to the close friends of Morocco, the true intentions of Rabat, which is no more than pushing all the meetings of the African Union to failure in order to serve Rabat’s colonial agenda in Western Sahara and the agenda of its French masterand other powers in Africa.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, organizes annual joint meetings with the AU Commission, called the Joint Annual Meetings of the AU Specialized Technical Committee on Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic Planning and Integration and the ECA’s Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development. These meetings serve as a sort of Summit of the ECA to decide on its budget, adopts its strategies and decisions for the coming years, and review past work plans etc.
The SADR normally received an official invitation from the African Union being a founding member, while the Sahrawi Representation in Addis Ababa received another invitation for the same meeting from the ECA because the Frente POLISARIO is an Associate Member in this Commission, representing the Western Sahara, as recognized by the United Nations as a non- Self-Governing Territory.
However, on the arrival of the Permanent Representative to the African Union, Mr. LamanAba Ali, representing the Sahrawi Republic in these meetings, he found that there was only one chair in the meeting-roomunder the name of "Western Sahara", while there was no chairfor the Saharawi Republic. He also found a group of members of the Moroccan delegation sitting in Western Sahara’s chair. Of course, the Sahrawi representative did not want to raise any problems knowing that that is exactly what the Moroccans wanted. He went to the organizers to diplomatically and privately inform them of this problem. He also asked for the Sahrawi Republic's sign in the room and gave them a number of practical proposals to solve the problem without causing any disturbance. The organizers were then aware of the Moroccan attempt, and tried to persuade those people to leave the chair and join their Moroccan delegation so as to avoid complicating the issue, but the Moroccan delegation refused. Then the debate started heatedly in the room. Several African countries denounced and condemned this childish Moroccan behavior, then the chairman of the meeting asked the organizers to put the nameand chair of the Sahrawi Republic in the room, which was done, and the Western Sahara sign was removed, as the Saharawi representative suggested, so as to avoid this miserable Moroccan attempt.
Nonetheless, Morocco also protested that the Republic was not a member of the United Nations and thus was not entitled to attend a United Nations meeting. But Morocco was recalled that the meeting was joint between the ECA and the AUC, and therefore the Republic had full right to attend it. The Moroccan delegation was also informed that the Frente POLISARIO is an associate member of the ECA and therefore had the right to attend the meetings of the Commission as the legitimate representative of Western Sahara. That is why the Chairperson opened the meeting regardless the Moroccan unfounded protest, and allowed the speakers to give their opening remarks scheduled on the morning of March 23.
Unfortunately, in the afternoon, the scene was repeated. The Sahrawi representative was surprised this time by the presence of two signs and chairs, one for the Republic and another for the Western Sahara. Some members of the Moroccan delegation sat behind the later. So, again, the debate heated up, and forced the Chairman to stop the meeting to give space for deliberations and negotiations, which did not succeed due to the intransigence of Morocco despite the weakness of its arguments.
In summary, AU and ECA officials agreed that Morocco's behavior was wrong. The ECA Legal officer servicing the meeting confirmed that the Frente POLISARIO was the sole legitimate representative of the Saharawi people according to the UN General Assembly resolution 34/39 of 1979. As for the African Union, it was clear that the Saharawi Republic was a founding member of the AU and no one could prevent it from participating in any meeting of the Union.
But the Moroccan delegation refused to comply with the law or logic, forcing the organizers to announce their intention to postpone the meeting pending a final resolution to this repeated and unfounded protest by Rabat.
The most important conclusions from this incident is the relevance and validity of all the expectations we (Sahrawis and those familiar with Morocco's colonial policies) have been highlighting that Morocco has joined the African Union for two reasons only: To control the AU and stop its support to the Saharawi people's right to self-determination, or if not possible: To push to failure all its meetings and cause its division to laterdestroy it from within. We have said that over and over again, in all languages, and here is Morocco confirming with its actions what we have said.
Morocco has proven that it does not care about anyone when it comes to its maneuvers to defend its colonial vision, it does not even consider its closest friends (Senegal). In the end, these important annual meetings have failed, despite their importance. We know that in these meetings Africans, together with the United Nations, decide on the budget and strategy of the ECA, the most important UN body in terms of the economic projects and development of the continent. And where did this happen? In Senegal! The most strategic African ally of Rabat. That is why we believe that such an act cannot and should not pass unnoticed without at least pushing the Senegalese leaders to wonder about what they really gain from their friendship with this Kingdom.
The failure of Morocco to impose its vision, with everyone standing against it this time, as in Malabo last year, is an evidence that the calculations of the Moroccan leadership was not as perfect as many imagined. Yes, Africa is a poor continent, and the Moroccan regime is an expert in corruption, bribery and hits below the belt, but it cannot succeed in imposing its colonial vision simply because this vision is completely incompatible with the vision, literature and principles of the Union. To sum up, everyone knows that Morocco isin totaldiscordwith all what the African Union stands for. The kingdom represents all the negative things that the continent is trying to overcome: colonialism, occupation, dictatorship, repression, oppression and indifferenceto the fate of the continent.
Finally, the legal counsel of the ECA, in confirming that the Polisario is the only legitimate representative of Western Sahara, gave a decisive blow to Morocco. Now, Rabat must again explain to all its allies how it can defend its colonial vision in Western Sahara and why the United Nations does not recognize its sovereignty over Western Sahara or even its representation ofits people?
To sum up
The greater pressures get on the Moroccan occupation regime, the more serious and fatal mistakes it makes such asthis one committedin Senegal and against Dakar in the first place (after all the postponement of the meeting is a historical failure for the hosting country). We have said before, inmany occasions, that Morocco's accession to the Union may not be as bad as many thought, and we said that it is no longer immune to the criticisms and pressures of Sahrawis and friends of the Sahrawi cause,who will be able to address the occupier directly and under the same roof of the AU. The decisions taken by the African Peace and Security Council after its meeting on March 20 were the best proof in this fact.
Now, the questions still to answer are: How will Morocco hide now from unveiling to everyone its real hateful colonial face? Will it continue indefinitely playing the role of a heavy-handed member who only causes problems, division and complexity to the continent? Will it remain the only African country that colonizes a fellow African neighbor and refuses to accept its well-definedgeographical and political boundaries? That's what the coming days will reveal. We only need to stay alert.