The African Union invited representatives from Morocco and the Polisario to Cairo this week where both the Moroccan and Sahrawi flags were flown. Delegates attended a summit organised by the AU between 14-18th April.

Salama Mohamed Youssef, attended on behalf of the Polisario. As their secretary general of transport he was well placed to meet Najib Boulif, the Moroccan secretary of state for transport who was heading up the delegation from Rabat.

Polisario’s attendance at the summit was to be expected as, having proclaimed itself the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, it is a member of the AU.  However, their arrival is reminiscent of the past tensions that resulted after delegations from the SADR and Morocco met at international level.

The AU has several specialized technical committees which work in various areas including security, defence and women’s empowerment and these committees are primary in change of the AU’s programs and any projects that are implemented.

This week the specialized technical committee for transport, energy, infrastructure and tourism met in Cairo and aimed to bring together all of the most prominent transport ministers across the member states with the relevant professionals.

In order to implement the AU’s transportation goals it was essential that as many African nations as possible attended the meeting. According to Cheikh Bedda, the AU commission director for infrastructure and energy this type of collective effort is critical for success.

In the opinion of the AU, it is essential to include Polisario in this kind of collective cooperative effort.

Egypt’s official position is to support Morocco when it comes to the situation in Western Sahara.  However, this week again provoked questions regarding this stance.

A representative from Polisario had attended an event in Ethiopia back in 2018, which was held in the Egyptian embassy there. However Ashraf Ibrahim, the Egyptian ambassador to Morocco denied that the individual had entered the event without being invited.

The African Union’s stance is to continue to support the UN’s role in managing the conflict in Western Sahara.  This was reaffirmed in the presence of 37 AU countries in March during a conference held in Marrakech to discuss the issue.

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