Moroccan King Mohammed VI arrives for a ceremony in the capital Rabat on April 8, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Mohammed VI sent a message to the leaders of the union as they began a
two-day summit in the Rwandan capital Kigali on Sunday, saying it’s time
for his country to retake its position in the organization.
a long time our friends have been asking us to return to them, so that
Morocco can take up its natural place within its institutional family.
The moment has now come,” said the monarch.
He said although Morocco left the club, “it never quit Africa.”
1984, King Mohammed’s father, King Hassan II, pulled the North African
country out of the union over the decision to accept the independence of
Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as a formal member.
Morocco annexed Western Sahara in 1975 and considers it the kingdom’s “southern province.”
For decades, the United Nations has been seeking to hold a referendum on independence for the territory.
the government in Morocco continues to carry out multi-million-dollar
development projects in the territory, several African countries
recognize the area as the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.
Morocco has offered wide-ranging autonomy for the region, but
the Polisario Front, the independence movement in the Western Sahara
insists that a referendum be held so that the local population can
decide their fate.
Leaders of the movement warned in April that
that if the UN Security Council fails to set a timetable for a vote on
self-determination, war will be possible over the disputed territory.