Posted by: AllAFRICA

The Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) was formed in 1989 by Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia as a vehicle to promote economic and political integration among these North African countries. Their good intentions quickly foundered on the domestic and regional conflicts that dominated the next two decades.

Mauritania faced several coup attempts, ending with the election of President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz in 2009; Tunisia was under the control of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from 1987 until the Arab Spring revolution of 2011; Libya was ruled by Muammar Gaddafi who was also ousted in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising in his country, and it has not recovered any normalcy since.

Morocco fought off the Polisario Front from 1975-1991, which sought to establish a separate state in the Western Sahara, ending with an uneasy cessation of hostilities in 1991; Morocco and Algeria closed their common border in 1994; Algeria was plunged into a civil war from 1991 to 2002, ending with the election in 1999 of current president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who came into power promising to end the civil war; and there was a transition in Moroccan leadership from King Hassan II to his son King Mohammed VI in 1999.

In short, only two of the AMU, Morocco and Algeria, have had continuity in leadership; Morocco’s based on a hereditary and immensely popular King as well as successive Parliamentary elections certified as “free and fair”; and Algeria’s through elections that are heavily influenced by the power elite in the country to avoid embarrassing or undesirable outcomes.

By Jean R. Abinader

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