Morocco, the only country in Africa which was not a member of the African Union, has rejoined the organization after more than 30 years. The country left the organization when the majority of member states recognized the independence of the territory of Western Sahara in 1984.
Western Sahara was annexed by Morocco in 1975, and since then it has been the focus of conflict between the country and indigenous people led by the Polisario Front. This week thirty-nine countries supported the readmission of Morocco into the African Union while nine voted against it.
All in all, Morocco’s return to the organization brings hope of peacebuilding in the territory. The foreign minister of Western Sahara, Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, has affirmed that it is a “positive step” for the population of Western Sahara.
Last month, during the swearing-in ceremony, legislators Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus “Baggio” Leung refused to declare their allegiance to China and carried blue flags reading: “Hong Kong is not China.” Now China has decided to bar the two young legislators, since “those wishing to hold public office must sincerely and solemnly declare allegiance to China”, as China’s rubberstamp legislature affirmed.
About 13,000 people marched on Sunday to protest against China’s last intervention, ending in clashes with police which led to four arrests.
After the United Kingdom gave Hong Kong to China in 1997, the city maintained its own laws, courts and freedoms not enjoyed in continental China, under a framework known as “one country, two systems”. However, many citizens agree that these freedoms have been diminished in the last years.
In fact, previous dissatisfactions led to nearly three months of street protests in 2014 and to the election in September this year of six politicians who demand greater autonomy for the city.
This action is thought to be Beijing’s most direct intervention in the territory’s legal system since the 1997, and it has set up a new conflict between pro-Beijing and pro-democracy camps.