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When the African Union (AU) was founded in 2001, it represented almost the entire African continent. As the successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), founded in 1963, its membership was inherited from that body. Currently, the AU has the same 53 member states as when it was founded. Growth in the OAU typically came from post-colonial independence; as decolonization ended, the borders of the OAU had overlapped almost all of Africa.


Article 29 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union (ratified July 11, 2000), states:
  1. Any African State may, at any time after the entry into force of this Act, notify the Chairman of the Commission of its intention to accede to this Act and to be admitted as a member of the Union.
  2. The Chairman of the Commission shall, upon receipt of such notification, transmit copies thereof to all Member States. Admission shall be decided by a simple majority of the Member States. The decision of each Member State shall be transmitted to the Chairman of the Commission who shall, upon receipt of the required number of votes, communicate the decision to the State concerned.
The following two articles discuss the suspension and cessation of membership:
Governments which shall come to power through unconstitutional means shall not be allowed to participate in the activities of the Union.
  1. Any State which desires to renounce its membership shall forward a written notification to the Chairman of the Commission, who shall inform Member States thereof. At the end of one year from the date of such notification, if not withdrawn, the Act shall cease to apply with respect to the renouncing State, which shall thereby cease to belong to the Union.
  2. During the period of one year referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article, any Member State wishing to withdraw from the Union shall comply with the provisions of this Act and shall be bound to discharge its obligations under this Act up to the date of its withdrawal.
The former of these two clauses has only applied to Mauritaniamarker after its 2005 coup d'état and Togomarker. Madagascar was suspended during the dissolution of the OAU and formation of the AU (2001-2003). The only state to leave the OAU/AU was Moroccomarker, who withdrew in 1984, following the admission of Western Saharamarker's Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in 1982. It is the only African state not currently an AU member.


OAU member states by the decade they joined.
The current AU covers almost the entirety of Africa.


Common name

Official name



Area (km²)


Algeriamarker People's Democratic Republic of Algeria Algiersmarker
Angolamarker Republic of Angola Luandamarker
Beninmarker Republic of Benin Porto-Novomarker
Botswanamarker Republic of Botswana Gaboronemarker
Burkina Fasomarker Burkina Faso Ouagadougoumarker
Burundimarker Republic of Burundi Bujumburamarker
Cameroonmarker Republic of Cameroon Yaoundémarker
Cape Verdemarker Republic of Cape Verde Praiamarker
Central African Republicmarker Central African Republic Banguimarker
Chadmarker Republic of Chad N'Djamenamarker
Comorosmarker Union of the Comoros Moronimarker
Côte d'Ivoiremarker Republic of Côte d'Ivoire Yamoussoukromarker
DR Congomarker Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasamarker
Congomarker Republic of the Congo Brazzavillemarker
Djiboutimarker Republic of Djibouti Djiboutimarker
Egyptmarker Arab Republic of Egypt Cairomarker
Equatorial Guineamarker Republic of Equatorial Guinea Malabomarker
Eritreamarker State of Eritrea Asmaramarker
Ethiopiamarker Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Addis Ababamarker
Gabonmarker Gabonese Republic Librevillemarker
Gambiamarker Republic of The Gambia Banjulmarker
Ghanamarker Republic of Ghana Accramarker
Guineamarker Republic of Guinea Conakrymarker
Guinea-Bissaumarker Republic of Guinea-Bissau Bissaumarker
Kenyamarker Republic of Kenya Nairobimarker
Lesothomarker Kingdom of Lesotho Maserumarker
Liberiamarker Republic of Liberia Monroviamarker
Libyamarker Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Tripolimarker
Madagascarmarker Republic of Madagascar Antananarivomarker
Malawimarker Republic of Malaŵi Lilongwemarker
Malimarker Republic of Mali Bamakomarker
Mauritaniamarker Islamic Republic of Mauritania Nouakchottmarker
Mauritiusmarker Republic of Mauritius Port Louismarker
Moroccomarker Kingdom of Morocco Rabatmarker
Mozambiquemarker Republic of Mozambique Maputomarker
Namibiamarker Republic of Namibia Windhoekmarker
Nigermarker Republic of Niger Niameymarker
Nigeriamarker Federal Republic of Nigeria Abujamarker
Rwandamarker Republic of Rwanda Kigalimarker
Western Saharamarker (SADR) Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic El Aaiúnmarker (under Moroccan administration)
Bir Lehloumarker (temporary capital)
Tindouf Camps (de facto)
Tifaritimarker (proposed new provisional capital)

São Tomé and Príncipemarker Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe São Tomémarker
Senegalmarker Republic of Senegal Dakarmarker
Seychellesmarker Republic of Seychelles Victoriamarker
Sierra Leonemarker Republic of Sierra Leone Freetownmarker
Somaliamarker Federal Republic of Somalia Mogadishumarker
South Africa Republic of South Africa Pretoriamarker (executive)
Bloemfonteinmarker (judicial)
Cape Townmarker (legislative)

Sudanmarker Republic of Sudan Khartoummarker
Swazilandmarker Kingdom of Swaziland Lobambamarker (royal and legislative)
Mbabanemarker (administrative)
Tanzania United Republic of Tanzania Dodomamarker

Togomarker Togolese Republic Lomémarker

Tunisiamarker Tunisian Republic Tunismarker
Uganda Republic of Uganda Kampalamarker
Zambiamarker Republic of Zambia Lusakamarker
Zimbabwemarker Republic of Zimbabwe Hararemarker

Possible growth

The only African state which could join (or more precisely re-activate its membership) is Moroccomarker. On the African continent, the only dependencies that remain are the Spanishmarker autonomous cities of Ceutamarker and Melillamarker. These territories would very likely never achieve independence; they are more likely to be ceded to the Kingdom of Morocco , and the two states have had diplomatic tension over these regions since Moroccan independence in 1956.

Off-shore islands which could otherwise be considered African include Francemarker's French Southern Territoriesmarker, Mayottemarker, Réunionmarker, and various islands in the Indian Ocean; most are uninhabited and there is a possibility that Mayotte will join Comoros or Réunion will be ceded to Mauritius, but none of these territories would likely become independent. Portugalmarker's Madeiramarker islands are also likely to remain an autonomous community. Spain's uninhabited plazas de soberanía, and the Canary Islandsmarker are off the coast of north Africa. The latter will likely remain an autonomous community, but Morocco has expressed interest in both.

The United Kingdommarker's British Indian Ocean Territorymarker is claimed by Mauritiusmarker, making secession to that state a possibility. In addition, the UK's islands of Ascensionmarker, Saint Helena and Tristan da Cunhamarker (administered together) are closest to Africa and might be a possible candidate for future membership.

Southern Sudan

By the terms of the 2005 Naivasha Agreement, Southern Sudanmarker received autonomy from the Sudanesemarker government, against which the Sudan People's Liberation Army had fought for over two previous decades. A six-year transition period ensued, to be followed by a 2011 referendum in which the citizens of Southern Sudan will decide whether or not to attain full independence from the government in Khartoummarker. However, there has been no formal discussion on whether or not, upon the possible passing of the referendum, Southern Sudan will file an application for admittance into the African Union.


While it is a primarily ethnic conflict, the Darfur conflict has gained a political dynamic in recent years, as the region has been traditionally distant from the Khartoum government until recent times. Until 1916, when it was forcibly integrated into the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium, Darfur had exercised a high degree of autonomy apart from the ruling colonial government; relations between the region and the government deteriorated after Sudan's independence in 1956. One of the leading rebel groups in Darfur, the Sudan Liberation Movement, originally started as a secessionist group, but later changed its goal to that of overthrowing the Khartoum regime. Furthermore, the African Union has stationed a small peacekeeping mission in the region, a mission which has experienced multiple difficulties in the maintenance of stability in the region. An explicit bid for independence by the rebels, as of 2007, remains to be seen, thus precluding any hints of a theoretical "Republic of Darfur" joining the African Union for the time being.


It is possible that in the future, Morocco may rejoin the African Union.

For other areas, see the African section at the List of active autonomist and secessionist movements.

See also


  1. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement between The Government of The Republic of The Sudan and The Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Sudan People's Liberation Army (Al-Jazeera) 31 December 2003

External links

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