Maghreb Union ‘not option or political luxury’ in eyes of Morocco King
TUNIS - Morocco's King Mohamed VI Saturday called for the reactivation of the Arab Maghreb Union, which has been frozen since its 1989 launch, saying the five-nation body is key for regional development.
The union, which is made up of Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia has stumbled over disputes among member states since its inception.
The issue of the Western Sahara -- a former Spanish colony controlled by Morocco and claimed by the Algeria-backed separatists the Polisario Front -- is the main obstacle for the union.
"The Arab Maghreb Union is not an option or political luxury, it is a pressing popular demand and a strategic regional need that cannot be ignored," the king told Tunisia's national assembly.
He called for the "edification of a strong and big Maghreb which is capable of fulfilling its role on the political, economic, social and security fronts."
He said the five nations in the union can "resolve the problems of development and meet the needs of the people" of their collective countries and deal with security issues.
King Mohamed VI arrived in Tunis on Friday for his first official visit to the birthplace of the Arab Spring uprisings since January 2011.
He is accompanied by a huge delegation, including 11 ministers and some 90 businessmen. Around 20 bilateral agreements, in both the private and public sector, are due to be signed during the visit that ends on Sunday.