Chadian Foreign Minister Hon. Moussa Faki Mahamat has been elected incoming Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission by AU heads of State and Government, who form the Assembly of the African Union. Ghana’s Ambassador Thomas Kwesi Quartey was elected Deputy Chairperson.

The African Union has also decided to allow Morocco back into the organization after a 33-year absence, despite stiff resistance from some member states over the status of Western Sahara.

“Morocco has been admitted to join the AU with a view that it will become the 55th member of the continental body. That’s made with the understanding that Western Sahara will remain a member of the AU,” said Lamine Baali, ambassador of Western Sahara to Ethiopia and the AU.

“All the debates were focused on the fact that Morocco should respect the internationally recognised border of Western Sahara.”

The only African country not to belong to the AU, Morocco left its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, in 1984 after the body recognised the independence of Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara.

Morocco submitted its bid to rejoin last year, reportedly in the hope that being inside the AU would bring it diplomatic gains against Western Sahara’s independence movement – the Polisario Front – and allow it to lobby against Western Sahara’s membership in the AU.

One of the 14 objectives of the AU is: “To work with relevant international partners in the eradication of preventable diseases and the promotion of good health on the continent.”