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In the first step since 1995, Maghreb union committee meets in Algeria

ArabicNews.com, 12 May 1999

The follow up committee of the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), which groups Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia, including ministers in charge of the UMA affairs will meet at the beginning of next week in Algiers.

This is the first step of its sort since freezing work of the federation’s establishments in 1995. Meantime, the general secretariat for the Arab Maghreb federation has asserted that the federation 17 and 18.

The spokesman for the Algerian Foreign Ministry, Abdul Aziz Sabiou, whose country is still at the head of the federation’s rotating presidency after receiving it from Tunisia in 1994, said the meeting of the follow-up committee aims at evaluating the phase through which the Arab Maghreb Union is passing, and the meeting will lay necessary recommendations to revive the organization’s works.

Diplomatic sources in Rabat expected that meetings of the follow-up committee, held under the chairmanship of Algerian Minister of State for Maghreb Affairs al-Hassan Musawi and in the presence of the federation’s secretary general, Muhammad Amamou, would contribute to settling disputes that had been emerging due to diverged stances, especially between Morocco and Algeria on various issues.

The election of the Algerian President Abdul Aziz Bouteflika has been viewed in Rabat and other Arab Maghreb states as an encouraging element toward opening the dialogue and reviving interest in the Arab Maghreb construction.

But there are still fears of the impact of Algeria’s hosting of the next meeting of the conference of the Organisation of African Unity in July, especially if the Polesario front is invited to the conference representing the Sahrawi Republic.

Meanwhile, Algerian sources made it clear that the decision to call for the meeting of the Maghreb follow-up committee reflects Bouteflika’s desire to reactivate the federation and pump new blood into its institutions.

Earlier, former Algerian President Liamine Zeroual had called twice for convening the delayed Maghreb summit upon assuming power in 1995. The summit was postponed for the first time due to the strong Algerian-Moroccan disputes and for the second time when Libya refused to take its turn in the presidency in protest against what it had considered the lack of Maghreb solidarity with it in lifting the UN sanctions imposed on it.

The follow up committee is considered the third commission in the Maghreb federation following the Presidium council which has to meet (once a week), and the ministerial council, which includes the foreign ministers and has to meet initially once every six months, while the follow-up committee was supposed to meet every three months.