The North African Kingdom of Morocco has announced its intention to join the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), online publication Morocco World News reported on Saturday.
King Mohammed VI has reportedly instructed the ministry of foreign affairs to launch a series of processes that could lead to the country becoming the 16th member of ECOWAS.
The other ECOWAS members are Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Togo, Guinea-Bissau, Niger, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Ghana, Cape Verde and Guinea.
The request is in line with the requirements of the Economic Community of West African States, the ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement, adding that Morocco’s move was a culmination of the strong political, humanitarian, historical, religious and economic ties with the countries of West Africa.
The move comes shortly after the North African kingdom rejoined the African Union after an absence of more than three decades.
Analysts said Morocco’s ECOWAS membership would strengthen the West African regional bloc, and create a US$700 billion economy, which would represent the continent’s second-largest economic powerhouse behind the combined economies of South Africa and Nigeria. It will also boost the size of the bloc’s market, increasing it to over 350 million people.
However, some observers said Morocco could also be asked to crack down on its inhuman and brutal treatment of migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa, many of whom continue to complain about Morocco Police and immigration officials’ manu militari, racist and xenophobic methods.
ECOWAS is said to be one of the continent’s best regional blocs in terms of free movement of people and goods and democratic principles, far ahead of SADC, EAC and ‘worst-performing’ CEEAC (Central Africa).
Photo: The famous Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco.