African Union: Morocco scores first victory against the Polisario

In a first confrontation against the Algeria-backed Polisario at the headquarters of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Morocco succeeded, thanks to Nigeria’s mediation, to amend two paragraphs of a report on human rights that the Kingdom deemed attacking its sovereignty over the Sahara.

As Morocco strongly protested the paragraphs, sixteen countries had spoken out in favor of Morocco’s position and six others backed the Polisario. To unblock the situation, Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama offered his mediation on Friday 1.

After the success of his mediation, which allowed the amendment of the report, Onyeama expressed on Sunday, July 2, his satisfaction and hoped that this method would be used in the future to resolve conflicts between members of the Union.

After a heated debate at the AU Executive Council, the Moroccan delegation succeeded to amend the two contested clauses of the African Commission’s report on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Clauses 88 and 89 were thus amended and the report was adopted by the AU Executive Council, which brings together African Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

Clause 88 initially states “Sending a human rights assessment mission to the occupied territory of the SADR”. The amended version stipulates that “some delegations of the member countries” proposed the sending of a human rights assessment mission “in the territory identified by the United Nations under the name of Western Sahara and named by the AU as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic”.

In the same paragraph, the report states that “other delegations” expressed “their firm opposition to this proposal”.

In clause 89, the revised report stipulates that the African Union will “engage in a constructive dialogue with the State concerned on the above-mentioned mission” without, however, specifying which state it is, Morocco or the SADR.

This is a victory for Morocco. Over the last seven years, these clauses have been included in all the AU reports on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Commenting on this victory, Moroccan Foreign Minister, Nasser Bourita, said at the end of the session, “we are returning to a logic where Morocco’s standpoint is taken into consideration”.

What is certain is that Morocco’s triumphant return to the AU last January has definitively put an end to the policy of the empty chair. The return would also prevent Algeria and the Polisario from exploiting the loopholes as they used to do in the past.

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