Ethiopia: AU Summit readmits Morocco, Saharawi celebrates (Eds: Adds details)

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - The African Union Summit took a decision on Monday to readmit Morocco as its 55th member state in a decision hailed by the Saharawi Arab Republic as a major step towards finalising the decades-long dispute over the occupation of the Western Sahara.

“It has taken them a lot of time to realise that we have to sit down and discuss the issues,” Mohamed Salek Ould Salek, the SADR Foreign Minister, told PANA immediately after the decision to readmit Morocco.

Morocco’s membership of the AU was a major point of division among the AU member states because Rabat demanded the organization dropped its recognition of the Saharawi Republic as a first step.

The Saharawi minister had earlier opposed the move, saying it remained against the rules of the AU and the Constitutive Act, the treaty which defined conditions of membership.

“We arrived at a consensus which is very good. We all agreed that it is better to have Morocco as a member of the AU than to have them outside the organization,” the Saharawi Minister said.
Morocco walked out of the AU after the decision in 1984, which formally recognised the Saharawi as a member.

Asked whether the decision to readmit Morocco brought SADR closer to statehood, the Minister said: “This is a major step since Morocco left in protest 33 years ago only to realise that they have to sit down and talk. We hope Morocco would have the goodwill to negotiate in good faith.”

The AU Summit agreed the readmission of Morocco would be based on Article 3 and 4 of the Constitutive Act, which requires countries to respect the territorial integrity and borders of each member state and the prohibition of the use of force against members of the same union.

“We are ready to sit down to discuss the issues and an end to the conflict,” Ould Salek said.

Earlier, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said the full statehood for SADR had “nothing to do with the UN,” whose membership is determined through processes and resolutions.

“There is a process and resolutions. This has nothing to do with the UN,” Guterres said.
-0- PANA AO/MA 30Jan2017

30 january 2017 18:28:43

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