AD137: Rejoining the AU, Moroccans bring decidedly mixed attitudes toward regional integration

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Graph: Perceived helpfulness of regional organisations and AU | Morocco and 36-country average* | 2014/2015
David Jacobs and Thomas Isbell

On January 31, 2017, the Kingdom of Morocco rejoined the African Union (AU) after a 33-year absence. The country had left the Organisation of African Unity in 1984 after the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) – to which Morocco lays claim – was acknowledged as an independent state and gained admittance to the continental body (Mohamed, 2017).

Rejoining the African Union comes with a commitment to help achieve the organisation’s objectives, including to “... accelerate the political and socio-economic integration of the continent” (African Union, 2002). This aim is again highlighted in the AU’s “Agenda 2063,” which states that “... the political unity of Africa will be the culmination of the integration process, including the free movement of people, the establishment of continental institutions, and full economic integration” (African Union, 2014).

In the wake of Morocco’s return to AU membership, we use Afrobarometer survey data to examine Moroccan attitudes toward regional integration and responsibilities. We find that as of November 2015, when the most recent data were collected, only a minority of Moroccans perceive the AU and the regional economic organisation, the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), to be of much help to Morocco. Almost half of Moroccans report difficulties crossing borders, but support for freedom of cross-border movement is limited. Dislike of foreign workers is considerably higher in Morocco than on average across Africa, while support for regional intervention to protect democracy and prevent human-rights abuses is lower than the North African and African averages.