Moroccan MP expects initiative to ‘build new reality based on reconciliation’
RABAT - King Mohammed VI’s speech on the 19th anniversary of his accession to the throne was seen by Morocco’s political class as offering new prospects.
Ibtissam Azzaoui, a member of parliament from the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM), said that the king’s Throne Day speech delivered in Al Hoceima, in addition to King Mohammed VI’s meeting with Aicha al-Khattabi, daughter of Moroccan anti-colonial leader Abd El Krim al-Khattabi, known as the “Hero of the Rif,” sends positive signals regarding issues in the Rif region. She did not rule out a general pardon of those detained during protests in the region.
Azzaoui refused to compare Morocco’s current state with the crises that the country experienced in the Years of Lead from the 1960s through the 1980s. She said there is a significant difference despite recent protests in the country.
“Social demands are legitimate demands but we must not forget that Morocco has achieved a qualitative leap politically, legally and economically. The kingdom has developed and become a role model for both Africa and the Arab world,” Azzaoui said.
She called on political and civil actors to stand behind reconciliation initiatives for the Rif region and to proactively seek solutions to appease tensions. Azzaoui pointed out that any initiative pertaining to the detainees of the Al Hoceima protests must allow legal proceedings to take their course.
“After the trial is over, we will work on a unified initiative to establish a new reality based on reconciliation,” Azzaoui said.
She added there was a need to find solutions for the social and economic conditions in the Rif region and in other marginalised cities suffering unemployment and poverty. The demands of young people dissatisfied with the lack of employment opportunities must be heard so what had happened in the Rif and other regions is not repeated.
In his Throne Day address, King Mohammed VI focused on social issues and introduced the “Unified Social Register” project. It aims to consolidate social and economic data for all citizens to identify the neediest classes and determine who qualifies for state welfare funds.
Azzaoui said Morocco has achieved remarkable development on several levels. What is noteworthy are the king’s efforts regarding a social climate of stability based on reconciliation as well as caring for all segments of Moroccan society, including the Amazigh culture.
Azzaoui said the Family Code developed by King Mohammed VI for the protection of women is proof of the kingdom’s progress.
Despite the gains, however, Azzaoui said she does not deny that the kingdom needs to do more to promote women’s affairs and to make economic progress by attracting investment and services and developing infrastructure, including roads, ports and airports.
Morocco is working to provide an attractive environment for foreign investment to meet the aspirations of citizens. “The king wants Morocco to be among the developed countries,” Azzaoui said.
Observers noted that King Mohammed VI’s speech included reassuring messages insisting on national unity and solidarity among all components of Moroccan society and warning against segregation and separation.
Azzaoui said King Mohammed VI also warned against compromising the kingdom’s security, especially in the context of the war on terrorism. It requires constant vigilance. This is still the case despite the proactive security policy the kingdom follows, enabled by the improvement of the internationally praised Moroccan security forces.
Azzaoui added that the kingdom was facing security challenges following the return of Moroccans who had joined extremist organisations in areas such as the buffer zone with Polisario Front rebels in the Moroccan Sahara.
Azzaoui stressed that parties must communicate seriously with citizens and reinvent their rhetoric as well as their ways of doing things instead of relying on tired language that has alienated young Moroccans and led to their reluctance to engage in public affairs.
She called for injecting the country’s talented youth into public service. “Parties should develop their discourse and their means of communication with constituents so that they can gain their trust,” she said.
Azzaoui pointed out that unrest in the Rif region revealed that all Moroccan parties had failed to contain social demands and ease tensions. The weak presence of political parties during the Rif crisis demonstrates the need for new mediation mechanisms.
Azzaoui said Moroccan parties suffer significant problems. They have remained hostage to their old ideologies, even though Morocco has, since King Mohammed IV’s accession to the throne, inaugurated an era of openness and social solidarity. Azzaoui noted that “the PAM, under its new leadership, is aware of the challenges. There is a profound political debate within the party aiming to enable it to play an advanced role on the political level in the future.”