Moroccan king: Maghreb states must reactivate union

Moroccan King Mohammad VI said a union of Maghreb states has become a mandatory demand

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The restarting of a union inclusive of all Maghreb Arab states has become a “pending legal demand,” Morocco’s King Mohammad VI said at an address to Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly on Saturday.

Delaying the formation of the union will only “hinder the future of the region,” said Mohammed VI, who arrived in the capital Tunis in his first visit to the country where the Arab Spring protests began after the toppling of Tunisia’s longtime strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.

Tunisia, Libya, Mauritania, Algeria and Morocco make up the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), but the union became inactive after political disagreements between Algeria and Morocco over an ongoing dispute over the Western Sahara region.

The king urged the restarting of the union because he said “no country can on its own solve its security and stability problems.”

The king, whose three-day visit comes at the invitation of Moncef Marzouki, was met by the Tunisian president at the airport in Aouina near the capital mid-afternoon, Agence France-Presse reported.

A delegation of 11 ministers and some 90 businesspeople are accompanying the king on the trip.

Around 20 bilateral agreements, in both the private and public sectors, are due to be signed during the visit, according to the president’s office.

Shortly after his election to the presidency in 2012, Marzouki visited Morocco, a country he once lived in.

In a related story, Tunisia said Saturday it has postponed an emergency meeting with its North African neighbors to discuss the chaotic situation in Libya, citing a lack of “foresight.”

With lawlessness in Libya rising, Tunisia had been due to hold a session on Sunday with other AMU states to find a political solution to the unrest in the mostly desert nation.

“It is deemed preferable to postpone the meeting because there is a lack of foresight on the situation in Libya,” AFP quoted foreign ministry spokesman Mokhtar Chouachi as saying Saturday.

The session was supposed to have been followed by a meeting of several countries’ and organizations’ special envoys, including those of the United Nations and the European Union, to Libya, but this was also postponed.

No dates for the postponement were given.

Chouachi’s comments come amid a political power struggle in Tripoli, where rival governments are claiming control of the country’s huge currency reserves from oil and gas, while a rogue general has launched an offensive on jihadists in the eastern city of Benghazi.

Libya is set to hold a vote in less than four weeks to replace the General National Congress, the country's interim parliament that was elected in July 2012 after a NATO-backed uprising toppled the regime of dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

(With AFP)

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