Morocco ‘to join Ecowas’ despite snubbing summit over Israel

West Africa’s regional body agrees to admit Morocco even though it boycotted a summit over Israel.

West African regional group Ecowas has in principle approved Morocco’s membership application despite it being in North Africa, sources tell the BBC.

But Ecowas leaders meeting in Liberia said the implications of its membership still needed to be considered before Morocco could formally join.

King Mohammed VI was not at the summit because Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been invited.

Morocco’s application comes after it rejoined the African Union in January.

Morocco left the continental body in 1984 after it recognised the independence of Western Sahara.

Morocco regards Western Sahara as part of its historic territory and has spent much of the last three decades trying to strengthen ties with Europe at the expense of relations with Africa.

King Mohammed VI
Image copyrightAFP Image captionMorocco’s King Mohammed VI is strengthening his country’s ties with the rest of Africa

There has been no official confirmation of the decision to admit Morocco but highly placed Ecowas sources have confirmed it to the BBC.

Morocco, along with Tunisia which is seeking observer status with the organization and Mauritania, which wants to return to the body, will be invited to the next meeting of heads of state in Togo in December, the source said.

Ecowas is made up of 15 West African nations, none of which shares a border with Morocco.

Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed West African leaders on Sunday saying: “Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel.

“I believe in Africa. I believe in its potential, present and future. It is a continent on the rise.”

This trip comes nearly a year after Mr Netanyahu was in East Africa as part of his efforts to strengthen ties between the continent and Israel.

Morocco does not have diplomatic ties with Israel so King Mohammed VI last week announced he would not be attending the summit.

 

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