By Samir Bennis*
By Samir Bennis*
Morocco World News
New York, August 21, 2011
In his address to the nation on the occasion of the 58th anniversary of the King and People’s revolution, King Mohamed VI of Morocco emphasized that all components of society, including political parties, youth and civil society stakeholders must work hand in hand in order to fully implement the recently adopted new constitution and pave the way for the building of a new Morocco to “enhance social justice and ensure a dignified life for all Moroccans”.
He added that the building of a new era in Morocco, where all Moroccans can fully enjoy their rights and benefit from the dividends of progress, is contingent on the full implementation of the new constitution. “I consider the optimal implementation of the new Constitution to be the gateway to political action aimed at promoting development and shoring up confidence as well as collective commitment to the rule of law. It is the proper way to stimulate the economy and to foster productive investment which can help our citizens – particularly deprived segments of our population – enjoy a free, dignified life”, he said.
Mohamed VI went on to say, however, that this implementation cannot be achieved unless the upcoming elections bring along new qualified political representation capable of establishing an innovative and realistic electoral program that addresses the pressing concerns of citizens and take into account their aspirations.
The moralization of politics was also among the main topics mentioned in the King’s address, as he acknowledged that the previous elections have systematically been tainted by irregularities. One of the common practices that have corrupted the political game in past elections is the resort by some candidates to buy votes. This occurs mostly in remote and poor areas of the country. In Morocco where over half of the population is illiterate and, hence, ignorant about the political process and what is at stake in elections, it is easy to manipulate people into voting for particular candidates by means of giving them small amounts of money. This is one of the factors that pushed many Moroccans to lose faith in elections and caused the turnout of the 2007 legislative elections to be 37%, the lowest in Morocco’s political history.
In this regard, King Mohamed VI urged political parties to break away from old practices that have sapped the trust of citizens in their political elite and undermined the credibility of elections: “Now is the time to do away with the shameful electoral practices which, in the past, weakened the credibility of elected councils and undermined the noble essence of political action”, the Monarch added.
In the same vein, he urged people of voting age to exercise their constitutional right by electing honest and qualified candidates who come up with realistic programs, and refrain from submitting their votes to any bargaining. He also stressed the correlation, enshrined in the new constitution, between the exercise of power and accountability.
While stressing that the constitutionally assigned role of political parties remains crucial to ensure the credibility of elections and preserve the inviolability of institutions, he urged political parties to present qualified candidates who would be able to assume legislative and executive responsibilities, both within the majority and the opposition.
In this connection, he called upon political parties to provide the youth and women with the opportunity to participate in the upcoming election in order to instill new life into Morocco’s political landscape. “It is also important that the parties give young people and women their chance in order to encourage the emergence of qualified elites able to breathe new blood into political and constitutional institutions.”
The King also stressed the role that young people will play in the future, emphasizing that they are at the heart of the modernization project underway in the country. “Our young people, who are discerning and responsible, are now at the very heart of an institutional and political modernization project. The rights and duties stipulated by the Constitution, and the institutions of responsible citizenship it provides for, make it possible to increase our young people’s involvement in democratic reforms and development projects”, King Mohamed VI underscored.
He also urged civil society actors and the media to fully and efficiently play their role in monitoring the upcoming elections and ensure the legal, independent and impartial observation of elections.
Mohamed VI availed himself of this opportunity to pay tribute to Moroccans living abroad and for “their strong attachment to their homeland, their keenness to nurture family bonds with their relatives here, and their great enthusiasm and eagerness to contribute to developing their country and defending its just causes”. In this connection he showed his keenness in striving for the full implementation of the provisions of the new constitution affording them the full rights of citizenship, including their participation in national institutions and in the management of public affairs, as well as the safeguard of their interests in their countries of residence.
*Samir Bennis is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Morocco World News
Editing by Benjamin Villanti and Islam Farghaly