Morocco has been readmitted to the African Union after a 33-year absence and is now a full member, said Macky Sall, the Senegalese president.

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There was a very long debate but 39 of 54 states approved the return of Morocco

After an emotional and tense debate, member states decided by consensus to leave the question of the disputed territory of Western Sahara for another day, and resolve it with Morocco “back in family”. Polisario officials have lobbied hard against Morocco’s admission, which they fear ultimately lead to Western Sahara being kicked out of the African Union. Last year, 28 AU members signed a petition to expel it, even though the bloc’s treaty doesn’t chart a clear path for removing a member against its will.

Morocco’s African Union initiative fits in with its efforts of the last few years to become a genuine player across Africa, where Moroccan major banks and corporations genuinely see a major opening, supported by the king’s view that growth south of the Sahara can be a driver for the economy.

Morocco’s King Mohamed, who had been campaigning since last year to join the bloc, told African leaders at the AU summit in Addis Ababa: “Africa is my home, and I am coming back home.”

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