Morocco applies to join West African regional economic bloc

AP News
Posted: Mar 07, 2017 5:57 AM

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The Economic Community of West African States confirms Morocco is applying to join the bloc. It comes after the North African kingdom in January rejoined the African Union as it seeks a larger role on the continent.

ECOWAS chairman Marcel de Souza says Morocco's application will be considered at the next summit of 15 member states in July.

Some analysts see Morocco's move as a continuation of checkbook diplomacy to consolidate its claim on Western Sahara. The region has been a source of tension in Africa. The AU decades ago accepted Western Sahara as a full member, leading Morocco to storm out.

King Mohammed VI has been traveling around the continent and signing multi-billion-dollar deals in Ghana, Nigeria and Guinea in West Africa as Morocco seeks to strengthen relations.