The King of Morocco Mohammed VI delivers a speech in the main plenary of the African Union in Addis Ababa on January, 31, 2017. (AFP/Xinhua)
RABAT, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- Morocco on Tuesday hailed its return to the African Union (AU) after a 33-year absence from the pan-African organization.
"It is so good to be back home, after having been away for too long!" Moroccan King Mohammed VI said in a speech at the 28th AU summit in Addis Ababa.
Rabat's return bid won support from 39 of the 54 leaders attending a closed-door meeting of AU heads of state and government on Monday, Moroccan media reported.
Local media outlets hailed the readmission of Morocco to the AU as a "victory" for the country and a "demonstration of the overwhelming support the country enjoys on the (African) continent."
Morocco left the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of the AU, in 1984.
"The massive, outspoken support Morocco has received is proof of the solid bonds that unite us," the Moroccan king said.
Last September, the North African country made an official request to rejoin the organization, and the Moroccan king toured many African countries to seek support.
During its absence from the AU, Morocco maintained strong ties with many countries in the continent, particularly in French-speaking states in west and central Africa.
Morocco is the top investor in west Africa and the second largest African investor in the continent.
In addition, Moroccan firms have a strong presence in many African markets, especially in banking, insurance, air transport, telecommunications, and housing sectors.
The Moroccan king, in his speech, said since 2000, Morocco has signed nearly a thousand agreements with African countries on cooperation in various fields.
In addition to economic ties, Morocco has also maintained strong cooperation with many African countries, particularly in the fields of security, peacekeeping, and managing religious affairs.
After its return to the AU as the 55th member, the king said, Morocco looks to expand its influence in the continent and join hands with other member states to meet the countless challenges facing the continent.
Morocco is committed to building a "safe, solidarity-based future," the king said. "We, peoples of Africa, have the means and the genius; together, we can fulfill the aspirations of our peoples."