Why would a North African country want to be a part of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)?
This is the nagging question among political, economic, and religious analysts since the request from the country, which has been warming its way back into mainstream African politics, was made public.
Many think it is intended to spread the economic frontiers of the country, but there are those who suspect it goes beyond economics.
Morocco says its move comes “to crown the strong political, human, historical, religious and economic ties at all levels with ECOWAS member countries”.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the official request stating that the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation issued a statement on the plan to join the 15-member West African bloc.
The kingdom of Morocco has informed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia who is the current chair of ECOWAS of “its interest to join the regional grouping as a full member” a statement from the (Foreign Affairs) ministry said.
This request is in line with provisions of ECOWAS founding treaty and in full satisfaction of its membership criteria, it asserted.
It said these links were reinforced over the last few years, through the king’s 23 visits to 11 countries in the region.
The statement said these visits were crowned by the signing of several hundred agreements, which gave a “strong” impetus to bilateral cooperation with the 15 member countries of the regional bloc.
Morocco also maintains institutional relations with ECOWAS, through an observer status, which has been in place for several years.
Morocco has participated in several meetings of the organization and has contributed to its activities, particularly in areas relating to peace and stability, the statement added.
The desire to join ECOWAS is also part of the royal vision for regional integration, as a key to Africa’s economic take-off, and is in line with the African policy of King Mohammed VI, reflected by the return of the kingdom to the African Union (AU), the statement concluded.
The country was recently re-admitted into the African Union (AU) after decades of voluntary withdrawal from the continental body.
The country embarked on diplomatic shuttles to many African countries, including Nigeria and Senegal to mend sour relations and to seek support of the countries for its admittance into AU.