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Why Morocco really wants back in the African Union

The king of Morocco's recent declaration that his country wants to return to the African Union after a 32-year absence appears to be a political maneuver to gain ground in the Western Sahara dispute.
A general view shows Chad's President Idriss Deby addressing delegates during the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 31, 2016. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri - RTX24TF2
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CAIRO — In a lengthy letter to a recent African Union (AU) summit in Rwanda, King Mohammed VI of Morocco declared his country’s intention to once again become a member of the union. Morocco withdrew from the AU’s predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), 32 years ago in protest of the group's support for the Polisario Front separatist movement and OAU's recognition of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).

The king’s July 17 message wasn’t void of reproach and blame toward the AU for its support of SADR, which has been a conflict zone since the Polisario was founded in 1973 to liberate Western Sahara from what it deemed “Moroccan colonialism.” However, the king did not explicitly call for the suspension of SADR’s membership as a condition of Morocco’s return to the AU.

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