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Morocco attends Russia-Africa Summit as Polisario is excluded



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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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