Moroccan king blasts political parties for failure to contain crisis

Sunday 06/08/2017
Royal anger. Morocco’s King Mohammed VI (C) delivering a speech to mark the anniversary of his accession to the throne, beside his brother Prince Moulay Rachid (R) and son Hassan III in Tetouan, on July 29. (AFP)

London- Moroccan King Moham­med VI’s criticism of the country’s politi­cal parties for failing to contain the crisis in the Rif region and not meeting Moroccans’ economic and politi­cal aspirations led political analyst Mohammed Afry to say the king had stripped them of any remaining credibility.

“I wonder if the civil society asso­ciations can play the role of political parties and fill the void,” Afry said after the July 29 speech by King Mo­hammed VI to mark the 18th anni­versary of his ascension the throne.

“Note that the majority of these political parties have not gained for a long time the confidence of all citi­zens, especially after the legislative elections, which produced a gov­ernment of ministers who remain highly controversial because of their failure to manage the affairs of their own parties and their failure in some of their governmental responsibili­ties,” Afry said

King Mohammed VI slammed politicians and government officials who “vie for the spotlight to derive benefits from the achievements made, both politically and in terms of media exposure.”

“Vying for media exposure and political wins has led parties and politicians to forget their primary mission in serving the public,” he said. “The desire to seek the lime­light is contrasted with a completely different behaviour when things go wrong. In this case, officials and pol­iticians hide behind the Royal Palace and ascribe everything to it.

“As a result, citizens turn to the monarchy because politicians can­not get things done nor respond to people’s demands,” the king said.

The king lashed out for the first time at political parties for failing to contain the crisis in the Al Hoceima region.

“The fact that political parties and their representatives refrain from performing their mission — some­times deliberately, and sometimes out of a lack of credibility or patriot­ism — has further compounded the situation,” King Mohammed VI said.

The restive Rif region has been a scene of eight months of protests since the gruesome death of fish­monger Mouhcine Fikri, who was crushed inside a rubbish truck Oc­tober 28, 2016, in Al Hoceima while apparently protesting the seizure and destruction of hundreds of kilo­grams of swordfish, which are not allowed to be caught in autumn.

Fikri’s death sparked the emer­gence of a grass-roots movement called Al-Hirak al-Shaabi — Popular Movement — demanding improve­ment in social justice, jobs and health care.

Yahya Ahrepou, a car salesman from the Rif region, said it was about time the king reprimanded the po­litical parties. “Overall, I’m happy with the content of the speech. Al- Hoceima citizens are now more op­timistic. The king talked the talk but we want to see the government walk the walk,” Ahrepou said.

Afry said that after Moroccan King Mohammed VI’s speech, there would be no room for the slightest initiative of any political party to­wards the Rif crisis except within a governmental framework.

“The speech ended the role of the parties towards these events, especially those that failed to man­age the protests issued a statement in which they branded protesters as separatists, before the government calmed the situation by issuing a counter-statement saying that the protests were legitimate,” he said.

Property developer Khalid Amry said the king’s speech must be put into practice.

“The administration must wake up and update itself to translate the speech into action. That way we will feel that our investments are safe in Morocco,” he said. “Many investors are facing bureaucratic hurdles for their projects and unlawful compe­tition, which is hampering the eco­nomic activity in our country.”

In June, King Mohammed VI criti­cised the government for failing to implement the 2015 development programme in the Rif region to im­prove the region’s infrastructure.

Protesters are still taking to the streets, although to a much lesser extent, to denounce corruption and marginalisation despite the govern­ment’s relaunch of the programme.

In his July 29 speech, the king crit­icised the public sector, particularly the civil service, for its poor govern­ance and weak performance.

“One of the problems which impede Morocco’s progress is the weakness of the civil service, be it in terms of governance, efficiency or the quality of the services provided to citizens,” he said

The king warned those in posi­tions of power to either do their jobs properly or quit.

“To all those concerned I say: ‘Enough is enough!’ Fear God in what you are perpetrating against your homeland,” he said. “Either discharge your obligations fully or withdraw from public life.”

Amry said that any politician or civil servant must be held into ac­count for their wrongdoings and in­competence.

“By doing so, Morocco will gain the trust of both its citizens and in­vestors,” he said.