Senegal on a drive to have Morocco rejoin AU By TAMBA JEAN-MATTHEW in Dakar | Thursday, May 16   2013 at  18:12

Senegal's President Macky Sall. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Senegal's President Macky Sall has urged “the friends of Morocco” to join his efforts in bringing the north African country back to the African Union.

He said the reunion would help in reaching a sustainable solution to the Polisario issue, which had “dragged on for too long".

President Sall believes that the hardest part in resolving the conflict had been attained with the acceptance of the Kingdom to grant a broader autonomy for the disputed territory.

He told a London newspaper that his country’s support for the Moroccan position on the Western Sahara issue stemmed from long time “strong and solid relations".

Such relations have existed since independence in 1960 and long before the crisis erupted in 1975 over the Western Sahara or Polisario, he said.

“So, our position is not dictated by the person of the president, but by the longevity and fecundity of the relations,” Senegal media quoted a London-based newspaper on Wednesday.

This relationship “has not changed” since the time of former President Leopold Sedar Senghor and it “will not change”, President Sall insisted.

"We have always defended the position of Morocco. From our point of view, the best strategy today is to bring Morocco to join his friends in the African Union to improve the action," he said.

Security Council

Morocco and Senegal have long scraped the entry visa requirement for their citizens respectively with daily flights between Dakar and Casablanca and Rabat.

Morocco is Senegal’s leading trading partner on the continent with a trade volume estimated at over $2 billion annually.

President Sall explained that he was making efforts to reunite Morocco with AU in a bid to “facilitate the work of the Friends of Morocco”.

Last March, during King Mohamed VI’s visit to Dakar, President Sall underscored the need for Morocco to re-embrace AU after 29 years of absence.

“It is important that the Kingdom of Morocco reunites with the great African family and I will endeavour to make this happen,” a Senegalese Foreign ministry statement said.

Morocco pulled out of the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1984 over the institution’s support for the self-determination of the Western Sahara to which Morocco lay claims.

Morocco has promised to support the candidacy of Senegal to the United Nations Security Council for 2016-2017.