Angola, one of the last few countries in the continent to maintain ties with the Polisario separatist militias, is on course to join its voice to the bulk of African countries supporting Morocco’s territorial integrity and sovereignty over its southern territories, the Sahara.
The talks King Mohammed VI held Wednesday with Angolan President Joao Lourenço on the sidelines of the AU-EU Summit in Abidjan are reflective of an undergoing rapprochement between the two countries.
The high-level talks are a continuation of a rapprochement process that took shape last June with a visit of Angola’s Foreign Minister Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti to Rabat.
This visit opened a new chapter in Angolan-Moroccan relations, breaking away with the animosity that characterized ties between the two countries due to the Sahara issue.
The two countries also signed a visa exemption agreement for their respective diplomats and agreed to hold regular political consultations on bilateral, African and international issues of mutual concern.
As it sees the success of Morocco’s south-south cooperation with African partners, the new Angolan leadership seems intent on breaking away with void ideological schisms in favor of a win-win partnership that will see it benefit from Moroccan investments in its areas of excellence that are key to meeting challenges facing Angolan economy such as agriculture, tourism, finance and industry.
The headway made by Morocco in Africa stands in stark contrast to the setbacks endured by the proponents of the Polisario separatists in the continent with the recent collapse of Mugabe’s regime and the impending demise of the Algiers-Pretoria axis. The first is battered by an oil crisis that hinders its capacity to buy support for separatists while the latter verges on authoritarianism coupled with endemic corruption and an unprecedented economic crisis.
In this context, the rapprochement between Morocco and Angola will deal another blow to the Polisario and their Algerian mentor who see that Morocco has been winning new allies and friends on the continent since returning to the African Union.
At the African Union Summit in Kigali, 28 African countries submitted a motion demanding to freeze the Polisario’s membership in the continental organization. A course that is set to continue as more countries in the African Union see the Polisario’s membership as an aberration in contradiction with international law because the Polisario is not a state and lacks state attributes.
Recently, several African countries that once supported the Polisario separatist endeavor are backtracking. After a diplomatic offensive coupled with win-win partnerships led by King Mohammed VI in Africa, several countries have ceased to support Algeria’s plot to create a separatist entity in Morocco and affirmed support for the UN-led political process. These countries include African heavyweights such as Nigeria and Ethiopia, which now see new cooperation opportunities with Morocco.
Overall, Morocco’s return to the African Union has set the tone for a gradual demise of the Algerian-sponsored separatism in the Sahara as the Kingdom and its friends will act as a bulwark against any attempt to use the pan-African body to simmer tension and instability in the continent.
Globally, support for the Algerian nurtured separatist thesis in the Sahara is waning as 43 countries have withdrawn their recognition of the SADR entity out of 80 that previously recognized it in a Cold War context.