For the first time, Morocco and the Polisario Front are expected to participate in the fifth African Union-European Union (EU) Summit in Ivory Coast this week.
King Mohammed VI of Morocco arrived in the Ivory Coast yesterday ahead of the conference which is due to begin on Wednesday.
The Polisario Front, a member of the African Union, will attend as the representative of the Sahrawi Republic.
Morocco rejoined the African Union in January after a 33-year year absence in protest against the AU’s acceptance of the Polisario Front’s membership in 1984.
Speaking from Algeria, Saharawi Minister of Information Hamada Salma Daf said the Polisario’s attendance represented the recognition o the Sahrawi state’s legitimacy.
He went on to call on Morocco to seize the opportunity and move towards an agreed upon political solution.
The two-day AU-EU Summit is being held under the banner “Investing in Youth for a Sustainable Future” and will discuss mobilising European investment to boost the African economy and supporting joint action in the areas of youth, migration, security and combating terrorism and extremism.
The crisis in the Western Sahara started in 1975, when Spain’s colonial occupation ended. A conflict broke out between Morocco and the Polisario Front, with the latter announcing an independent state and Rabat claiming sovereignty over the territory.
The United Nations has been overseeing negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario in search of a solution to the dispute since a ceasefire agreement was signed by the two parties in 1991.