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Morocco attends Russia-Africa Summit as Polisario is excluded

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The Kingdom of Morocco is the only country in attendance at Russia-Africa Summit as Algeria backed Polisario is excluded. This is despite the ties existing between Algeria and Russia. This is the second edition of the summit.

According to the Moroccan news agency, MAP, Russia invited  to the summit, holding in St Petersburg, all the African countries with which it has bilateral relations. The report has it that Algeria and South Africa were unsuccessful in their pressure on Russia to extend invitation to Polisario.

Algeria had long capitalized on its close ties with Russia to lobby the Baltic State into endorsing its anti-Morocco position in the Western Sahara dispute.

The two countries cooperate in a wide range of fields, with Algeria being among the top importers of Russian arms – Algeria is Africa’s top importer of Russian weapons, with 73% of its military equipment sourced from Russia.

The summit saw a solemn invitation extended to all African states with whom Russia maintains bilateral relations and that hold UN recognition.

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Despite facing pressure from certain countries, including South Africa and Algeria, who sought to leverage their relationship with Moscow to secure the participation of the Polisario group, Russia didn’t reconsider its decision of not inviting the separatist front to this year’s Russia-Africa summit.

By refusing to invite the Polisario Front, Russia is implicitly refusing to acknowledge the separatist armed militia group as the representative of an independent state.

The summit concluded with the adoption of several important documents, including four declarations and an action plan, which clearly endorses the existence of 54 sovereign states in Africa, leaving out the self-styled Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).

The opening paragraph of these official records emphasizes: “We, Heads of State and Government of the Russian Federation and African States recognized by the United Nations (hereinafter referred to as the Russian Federation and African States), and representatives of the African Union and leading African integration organizations.”

Unlike EU’s Controversies Against Morocco

Russia’s tacit dismissal of the Polisario Front sharply contrasts with a recent decision by the European Union, when the bloc allowed the head of Polisario Front to attend the EU-AU Summit held in Brussels in February 2022.

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The presence of the Polisario leader stirred controversy, undermining the seriousness of the high-ranking meeting and drawing disapproval from several participating countries.

The presence of the Polisario Front at the summit came despite appeals from many Moroccan politicians, who had warned that the separatist group’s participation could harm the positive dynamics of the longstanding ties between Morocco and the European Union.

Prior to the event, the chairman of the Morocco-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee,  Lahcen Haddad, addressed a letter to MPEs to protest the potential presence of Polisario leader Brahim Ghali at the event.

“We count on your understanding and that of all of our European colleagues to prevent the entry of the leader of this separatist movement and denounce these maneuvers that tend to harm the positive dynamic that characterizes Morocco-EU relations and the common destiny that unites the two shores of the Mediterranean,” Haddad said in the letter.

Despite that call, the EU allowed the presence of Polisario’s Ghali despite the lawsuits accusing Ghali of many criminal acts, including war crimes.

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Morocco cooperates with the EU in different fields, particularly agriculture, fisheries, and security.

Over the years, Polisario and its supporters — mainly Algeria — have relentlessly put pressure on the EU to cancel its fisheries and agriculture agreements with Morocco.

While some MEPs are pushing for hostile texts against Morocco at the European Parliament, many EU countries have continued to stress the importance of cooperation with Rabat in key fields like agriculture, security, migration management, and fisheries.

Earlier this month, Spain’s Agriculture Minister Luis Planas reaffirmed Madrid’s commitment to both its newfound rapprochement with Morocco and its desire and to advancement of EU-Morocco cooperation.

Meanwhile, Russia’s decision to not invite Polisario to the ongoing Russia-Africa summit comes as Morocco’s 2007 Autonomy Plan continues to gain widespread international support as the best basis for a lasting and realistic solution to the Western Sahara dispute.

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Countries such as the United States, Malta, Cape Verde, Ukraine, Sierra Leone, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands have all recently announced their support of the autonomy plan.

Most observers of the lingering Sahara dispute agree that since Morocco presented its Autonomy Proposal to the UN Security Council in 2007, all developments have been to Morocco’s advantage.

Crucially, all the UN resolutions since 2007 have sidelined a self-determination referendum and instead embrace a compromise-based political solution as the best hope to end the decades-running stalemate in the Sahara.

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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POLITICS

King Mohammed VI Invites Tinubu To Morocco –

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Morocco’s monarch, King Mohammed VI has invited Nigeria’s President Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu to Morocco after having a telephone conversation with the Nigerian leader. According to a statement  during a phone exchange that took place today.

A statement from the royal palace said that the two leaders discussed the development of bilateral relations between Morocco and Nigeria over the past few years.

The discussion also covered the African-Atlantic Gas Pipeline, which is a structuring project between Nigeria and Morocco that will be a strategic lever for regional integration and socio-economic development for all West African countries.

Initiated in 2016 first by King Mohammed VI and former president of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari, the pipeline aims to promote regional integration and reinforce Africa’s energy security. Morocco is set to host over 1600 kilometers of the project, which is 5,600 kilometers long in total.

King Mohammed VI has frequently emphasized the importance of the project, reiterating Morocco’s commitment to the pipeline project with Nigeria.In November 2023, during a speech the King gave commemorating the Green March, he stressed the potential benefits that the pipeline could bring not only to Africa but also to Europe.

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“The Morocco-Nigeria gas pipeline  strategic project is part of that endeavor,” he said, referring to the purpose of the project; to promote regional integration and boost economic growth.
The pipeline is set to connect over 11 countries in the region to benefit from Nigerian gas sources.
Many countries have endorsed the project, including Senegal.

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POLITICS

US reaffirms support for Morocco’s Autonomy Plan on Western Sahara

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The US State Department has affirmed the country’s support for Morocco on the Western Sahara issue.

In a statement of support issued on Sunday, the Americans remarked: “There is no change in the clear and consistent U.S. position regarding the Moroccan Sahara issue.”

 

The statement is published on the eve of the visit to Morocco of U.S. Assistant Secretary for North Africa Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs Joshua Harris, the State Department stressed that during his talks in Rabat, the U.S. official will reiterate that “there is no change in the clear and consistent U.S. position.”

This new reaffirmation of the consistency of Washington’s position provides a scathing denial of the fallacious allegations conveyed by some Algerian media outlets which have insinuated, following the recent visit to Algiers made by the U.S. official, an alleged change in the U.S. position on the Sahara issue.

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“The United States fully supports UN Personal Envoy de Mistura in facilitating the negotiations process to achieve a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable solution for the Sahara,” the statement points out.

After recalling that the United States “believes a negotiated political solution should be realized without further delay,” the same source underlines that “the outcome of UN-led negotiations – mutually agreed to by the parties and reflecting their commitment to UN efforts in a spirit of realism and compromise – would constitute the final resolution to this issue.”

“In this regard, the United States continues to view Morocco’s Autonomy Proposal as serious, credible, and realistic,” it says.

The visit to Rabat of Deputy Assistant Secretary Joshua Harris will also focus on the means to further strengthen the U.S.-Morocco partnership in addition to a range of regional security priorities, the statement stress

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Morocco, UAE strengthen ties

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King Mohammed VI of Morocco and President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates

Morocco’s monarch, King Mohammed VI and United Arab Emirate’s President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Monday engaged in high-level talks aimed at bolstering bilateral cooperation on Monday.

They issued a press release in which both countries highlighted the mutual appreciation and deep-rooted affection.

King Mohammed VI commended President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for successfully overseeing the 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 28) held in Dubai.

The meeting showcased the two countries’ shared commitment to boost ties, with emphasis on a multidimensional partnership across many spheres.

King Mohammed VI underscored Morocco’s strides in infrastructure and structural reforms, outlining a vision of economic and social development through strategic investments.

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On his part, President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan hailed Morocco’s potential as an investment hub, acknowledging the nation’s diverse assets and conducive business climate. The leaders affirmed their intent to cultivate innovative partnerships, exploring collaborative ventures that would benefit both nations economically and socially.

They also expressed keen interest in implementing joint action plans based on signed agreements, aiming to pioneer common partnerships in regional and international markets.

King Mohammed VI extended gratitude to President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for the UAE’s unwavering support on national issues and Morocco’s development.

The talks concluded with an optimistic outlook, fostering a renewed sense of cooperation and shared aspirations for the future.

Following the talks, the two leaders signed a joint declaration, committing to boosting bilateral ties and cooperation in a wide range of sectors.

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The declaration is titled “Towards an Innovative, Renewed, and Deep-rooted Partnership,” and aims to strengthen ties between the two countries through win-win economic ties.

The declaration’s text indicates that King Mohammed VI’s visit to the UAE came at the invitation of Al Nahyan.

“During their bilateral talks… the two Heads of State reiterated their firm and resolute commitment to elevate the relations between the two countries and their mutual cooperation towards broader horizons, through active economic partnerships serving their shared supreme interests, generating progress and prosperity for the two brotherly peoples,” the declaration reads.

The declaration expresses the two countries’ desire to work towards elevating bilateral ties in economic, commercial, investment, and industrial aspects to the “level of deep political” ties to serve the development goals of both countries.

The two countries also aspire to establish a model of comprehensive and balanced economic and investment cooperation open to the private sector, attracting benefits for both.

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