A group has listed eight reasons why Nigeria should prevent Morocco from joining the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The Nigerian Movement for the Liberation of Western Sahara, said the 15-nation West African bloc has little in common with the North African kingdom, especially as it maintains a grip on Western Sahara.
“The move by Morocco to join the ECOWAS is a direct challenge to the leadership of Nigeria in the sub-region,” Dipo Fashina, convener of the group, said in a statement Thursday.
“Nigeria must rise to the occasion and ensure that the application of Morocco for membership is rejected.”
ECOWAS leaders met in Liberia in June to discuss the prospects of Morocco joining the bloc, saying it had agreed in principle to consider the request, even though Morocco is geographically located in North Africa.
Morocco’s move came roughly six months after it reentered the African Union in January, 33 years after it left the continental body in 1984 due to disagreements about the independence of Western Sahara.
The African Union recognises the independence of Western Sahara, which is also a member of the union, as a sovereign state, even though Morocco still considers it an occupied territory.
African countries reached a consensus to discuss pending issues about Western Sahara for another day in order to admit Morocco “back in the family”.
Nigerian foreign policy experts saw the steps by Morroco as suspicious, warning the Nigerian government to stop dithering on the matter.
A former Minister of External Affairs, Bolaji Akinyemi, described Morocco’s attempt to join Ecowas as the most serious affront to Nigeria’s foreign policy dominance since the Civil War.
In his statement, Mr. Fashina said Nigeria must oppose Morocco’s efforts on the following grounds:
• ECOWAS is for the states in the West African sub-region and in this regard, the revised treaty defined the “region” as “the geographical zone known as West Africa as defined by Resolution CM/Res.464 (XXVI) of the OAU Council of Ministers.
• Morocco is not classified among the member states of the ECOWAS by the United Nations and the African Union. The Kingdom is a member of Arab Maghreb Union States together with Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania and Tunisia.
• Morocco’s move to join the ECOWAS is a deliberate ploy to whittle down the influence and strength of Nigeria for her role in the body.
4. There is no accession clause in the ECOWAS Treaty. To that, the planned admission to ECOWAS cannot be justified under the Revised Treaty of the ECOWAS.
• In line with the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, the member states of ECOWAS are under democratically elected governments whereas Morocco is a monarchical state.
• The opposition of Nigeria to the European – ECOWAS Partnership Agreement will be frustrated by Morocco which will flood West Africa with goods from Europe.
• The struggle of the people of Western Sahara for independence being championed by Nigeria will be seriously challenged by Morocco.
• All member states of ECOWAS have subscribed to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights which has recognised the human rights of African people to independence and right to self-determination. Morocco has refused to recognise the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination.
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