The conference of African Ministers of Finance and Planning, scheduled for March 27 and 28 in Dakar, will ultimately not take place due to “differences” between Morocco and the countries supporting the Polisario.


After three days of violent verbal jousts between Morocco and the representatives of the Polisario, the 10th Conference of African Ministers of Finance and Planning was finally canceled. This annual conference, organized jointly by the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), was to be held March 27 and 28 in Dakar, following the preparatory meeting of the committees of experts which opened last Thursday, March 23.


But the technical meeting of the committees of experts was itself unable to continue its work because of heated confrontations between both parties on the Sahara issue. Despite the attempts and maneuvers of Algeria, Morocco preventing the meeting from standing outside of international laws and regulations.


During the consultative meetings, the ECA was called upon to avoid any slippage or deviation from international law and the rules governing  meetings of the UN and its various organs and bodies, which are not open to non-members.


For three days, however, no item on the agenda could be discussed, except for the election of a new office.


On behalf of Morocco, Abdellah Ben Mellouk, the Head of Division in the Directorate of Multilateral Cooperation, presented the legal arguments to preserve the UN format of the meeting in accordance with the rules of procedures and practices of the United Nations system.


Morocco refused to allow Polisario, which is not recognized by the UN, participate in a meeting organized jointly by the global diplomatic body. The supporters of the Polisario, who unsurprisingly opposed Morocco’s stance, tried to justify its presence by the fact that it “represents a member state of the AU”.


Representatives of the southern provinces of the Kingdom were present in the room as legitimate representatives of the Moroccan Sahara.


The participation of Mhamed Abba, Vice-President of the Laâyoune-Sakia El-Hamra region, and Bouttal Lambarki for the Dakhla Oued Eddahab region highlighted their legitimacy and questioned the representativeness of Polisario.


Despite the many legal arguments raised by both sides and the intense negotiations involving high authorities of the African states, no solution could be found. This deadlock forced the AU and ECA secretariats to cancel the conference on Saturday, March 25, and postpone it until a later date.


Upon hearing the news, all present delegates called for the prevention of such situations from happening again in the future. It is therefore up to the AU and ECA to determine a formula that will satisfy both parties, but given the sharp differences in positions, it seems like a middle ground will not be found any time soon.