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No, Morocco has not applied to join developing-economies coalition Brics – country’s foreign affairs ministry sets record straight

IN SHORT: Social media posts claim that African country Morocco has submitted an application to join a grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. But Morocco's Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it’s done no such thing.

“Morocco has submitted an application to join the BRICS,” says a post doing the rounds on Twitter (now called X). The post has over 15,000 likes and includes a picture of the prime minister of Morocco, Aziz Akhannouch, shaking the hands of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Morocco is a North African country that borders the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Algeria on the other.

The same claim has been posted on other corners of the social media platform, with some posts making their way to Facebook.

“Morocco's application was submitted ahead of the upcoming BRICS summit scheduled to take place in South Africa next week,” one of the posts reads.

The term “Bric” was coined in 2001 by economist Jim O'Neill in a study titled Building Better Global Economic BRICs. At the time the acronym stood for Brazil, Russia, India and China.

South Africa was added in 2011, grouping the five countries’s foreign policy. The group aims to adjust the political and economic landscape of each member country.

The 15th Brics summit is being held in South Africa from 22 to 24 August 2023. According to the agenda on the Brics website the group will be discussing, among other things, a proposed gold-backed currency.

There have been reports that several countries have expressed interest in joining the Brics group. On 24 August, the last day of the summit, it was reported that Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had been granted full membership into “Brics Plus”, in effect from January 2024.

But has Morocco submitted an application to join, too? We checked.

MoroccoBrics_False

‘The Kingdom has never formally applied for membership of the BRICS group’

The official Twitter profile for Morocco’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted about the claim on 19 August, saying that there had been no agreement for the country to take part in the Brics meeting “at any level whatsoever”.

 

 

According to the Mail & Guardian, a South African newspaper, the claims came from a comment by Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s foreign affairs minister. Pandor reportedly said that Morocco had applied to join Brics.

An official of Morocco’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told news site Daily Maverick that they had received an invitation to the summit. However, this was not a Brics initiative, but rather an invitation from South Africa in its national capacity. 

A statement appearing on both the Morocco’s government and Ministry of Foreign Affairs websites debunks the claim, referring to it as “a hypothetical bid by the Kingdom to join the ‘BRICS’ group”.

The statement explains that Morocco had declined the invitation from South Africa in light of its “strained bilateral relationship with this country”.

“South Africa has always shown a primary hostility towards the Kingdom, and has systematically taken negative and dogmatic positions on the question of the Moroccan Sahara,” the statement reads. “The Kingdom has never formally applied for membership of the BRICS group.”

Western Sahara, referred to here as “Moroccan Sahara”, is a disputed territory annexed by Morocco in 1975. South Africa has as recently as October 2022 expressed support for the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, the state declared by the Western Sahara’s government-in-exile. The republic is also a full member of the African Union.

The claims posted on social media about Morocco joining Brics are false.

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