As Morocco Applies To Join ECOWAS

AFTER 33 years of absence at the Africa Union, (AU) the Kingdom of Morocco thought it wise to return to the continent’s vibrant economic bloc at the end of the seemingly economic and diplomatic isolation of this North Western African Country in the Maghreb Region.
Earlier on February 24 this year, Morocco had applied for membership of the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS). At its Monrovia, Liberia Summit in June, the ECOWAS Heads of Government (in the absence of the Nigerian leader) agreed in principle to grant the controversial request for Morocco’s membership application for deliberation.
he ECOWAS Sub-Region is the largest African Bloc with 15 member -states founded in 1975 with its treaty spearheaded by Nigeria and Togo. In 1976, Cape Verde joined the economic bloc powered by over 300 million people mobilising for growth and development.
he ECOWAS has been fostering peace and unity in the sub-region but various schools of thought tend to believe that Morocco, which is accused of neither believing in peace and equity nor working in stability with its neighbour, Western Sahara, otherwise known as Saharawi which Morocco claims as part of its territory. Morocco has been exploiting Western Sahara’s mineral wealth on the basis of its claim as its colonial master even in the 21st Century. Morocco, a hereditary monarchy, is seen by critics as a non-democratic nation and thus viewed as being unable to merit ECOWAS membership as its driving treaty is at variance with Morocco’s state craft in modern democracy.
n the circumstances, Morocco wants to ends its isolation as it is not a member of the Maghreb Region or the ECOWAS on the basis of the 1992 revised treaty anchored on regional contingency. Thus, a professional body, the Society of International Relations Awareness, (SIRA) led by Professor Chidi Odinkalu , argues that Morocco has no locus standi of being considered as it lacks the necessary contiguity in its location in relation to the 1992 guideline treaty. It is pertinent to rationalise that the Commission was ideally set up specifically to bridge the inherited trite colonial divides between the Anglophone and Francophone West African countries which Morocco still cherishes and would wish to perpetuate.
s a matter of fact, SIRA and other critics rationalise that it is inequitable to accept such an absurd application for consideration. This school of thought argues that ECOWAS and some of its member states sponsoring the conservative North African Kingdom seem to have upturned the globally accepted international norms and logic of geographic contiguous proximity principle, as a basis for its membership. It is seen and argued logically as a divisive and irrational in principle at a time when the West African leaders need to be busy consolidating the gains of its 42- yearsof regional integration and find answers to the nagging issues in social, economic and security challenges.
Furthermore, the 2001 ECOWAS protocol on democratic governance is the backbone of the Commission’s policy on promoting and deepening democracy even as the ECOWAS is currently pushing for a maximum of a two-year term for heads of state of member countries anchored on the framework of regular, free, fair and credible elections in multi-party political participation.
n contrast, Morocco is adorning the dictatorial tradition of a monarchy where the king rules in perpetuity until his death after which he is automatically succeeded by a member of his ruling family in 21st century nation state. This is an anathema in current political dispensation system and so, is completely at variance with those of the 15 ECOWAS member states and unacceptable. It is also vehemently argued that Morocco which is supposedly a member of the near-moribund Arab Maghreb Union, AMU, set in 1989. However, the economic union has not been able to meet at Summit level since 2008 due to unending squabbles over Morocco’s continuing occupation of the neighbouring Western Sahara as well as its disputes with Algeria, another neighbour.
his means that Morocco has had a long history of causing disputes in the AU and AMU and, therefore, should not be allowed to transmit a disunity culture into the ECOWAS, in view of the fact that the economic group has a responsibility to foster the aspirations of Western Sahara’s liberation struggle and self-determination against Morocco. Morocco’s interest is vested in continued exploitation and protection of the huge deposits of phosphate and other mineral resources of Western Sahara. Morocco is sustaining the onslaught because she reckons that a free Western Sahara will deny Morocco any access to these economic resources in future.
t would, therefore, not be in the best interest of ECOWAS’ economic wellbeing in the short or medium term in view of its 1979 Protocol on free movement of people which Morocco would cash in. On the other hand, a possible minus is that with Morocco’s contiguity to Europe, the ECOWAS region could become a dumping ground for EU products.
On the flip side, counter observers opine that the Sahel, which is home to some of the most deadly sources of extremist violence in the world, including Al-Quaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, and a regional franchise of the Islamic State (IS) led by Habib Yusuf (Abu Musab Al-Barnawi), whose father, Mohammed Yusuf, founded Boko Haram, could be better tamed. By its application to join ECOWAS, Morocco dangles a geo-strategic benefit to the region in the fight against these extremist organizations through the shared expertise of its own security and faith-based networks.
With Morocco’s accession, ECOWAS could potentially claim a contiguous stretch of territory to the Maghreb, giving it access to counter-terror capabilities that were hitherto not necessarily within its reach. Seen as a net contributor to regional security and counter-radicalization capabilities, the likelihood is that Morocco’s application could receive diplomatic backing from the current United States administration.
We urge all interests to turn down the appplication of Morocco on account of its many evil potential effects

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