By Larbi Arbaoui
By Larbi Arbaoui
Morocco World News
Taroudant, Morocco, November 27, 2012
Last year in the wake of Arab Spring protests that brought hopes of change, the Islamist Party (PJD) came to power in historic elections, which are believed to be the fairest of their kind. Following the adoption of the constitution introduced by King Mohammed VI, Mr. Abdelilah Benkiran was appointed, last January, as Head of the Moroccan government. In theory, the changes in the new constitution allow him, as the head of the government, greater powers than any of his predecessors.
After its landmark win, the Islamist party had to face tremendous challenges in order to form a new government.
After a long political agitation, the Justice and Development Party was able, at last, to form the government with three political parties (The conservative Independence Party, the Popular Movement, and the Progress and Socialism Party with communist orientations).
A year has gone by since the first government under the new constitution came into being, and Moroccans have the right to know what developments in the national political scene have been achieved. What were the actions and decisions taken by the new government? What are the implications of these measures on the daily life of common citizens? What political, economic and social projects were inaugurated so far and whether they meet the expectations of citizens?
In the context of the Arab Spring and the increasing popularity of the Islamist Party, Mr. Benkirane took a lot onto his plate, and gave many more promises than he could chew. A year on is enough to show that the man’s words speak more than his actions.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t managed to wrap up any of the main dossiers he promised Moroccans during his campaign, whether affording jobs to unemployed degree holders, completing healthcare and educational reform or making measurable headway on the ailing national economy, women’s rights or transport sector that causes more than 4000 deaths each year with 12 crashes every hour.
The record of economic relations between Morocco and the European Union has declined by virtue of the crisis that has swept the European continent, which began exporting its negative impact on the Moroccan economic. The decline in remittances of Moroccan immigrants, the low number of European tourists visiting the country, as well as shrinking European imports from Morocco have also been factors that have contributed to the crippling economy. But, if the decline in economic relations between the two parties may be attributed to the crisis plaguing Europe, one may wonder why such a cold struck Moroccan-European diplomatic and political relations, taking into account the limited visits, if any, exchanged between the officials of both parties during the life of this new government.
With the exception of his private visit to Madrid five months ago to speak at the Institute for Strategic Studies in Barcelona, where he was received by the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Mr. Benkirane did not receive any invitation from any other European capital for an official visit. This is contrary to what is conventionally done following the appointment of a new head of government, although Benkirane had reassured the West as soon as his party gained the majority of votes.
Moroccans have witnessed the cacophony of the Islamist-led government manifested in the incoherent press releases and orientations of its ministers. What was attractive at first – fresh new bold statements expressed by the government ministers – became increasingly irritating since most of those statements have not found their way into reality. The Minister of Justice, Mr. Mustapha Ramid’s press release on tourism in Marrakech was reprimanded by his colleague Mr. Lahcen Heddad of Tourism. That of Mr. Mustapha El Khalfi, the Minister of Communication and government spokesman, on prohibiting gambling commercials on national TV have been refuted by the Minister of Youth and Sports Mr. Mohammed Ouzine. The latter described El Khalfi’s statement as far from representing the official government policy.
But what should be counted for Mr. Benkirane is the fact he gave names, which are still inspiring fear in the imagination of Moroccans, to the “lobbies of corruption” such as “Lafarite” elves and “Tamasih” crocodiles, though they still remain anonymous to the majority of people. The inability to put the slogans held before the elections into action brought him the rage of the masses and the mockery of the party’s foes in the political arena. The daily newspaper Almassae has named Mr. Benkirane the chair of Moroccan psychiatrists and sociologists for the reason, they said, to approach the major psychological factors that gave birth to such “abnormal” character leading the Moroccan government.
On the sidelines of the World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg, Mr. Benkirane told France 24, “Democracy in Morocco is advancing slowly but surely”. What is sure, to my knowledge, is the growing social discontent at the slow pace of reform contrary to the aspirations of the people. The Islamist-led government has proved its helplessness in fighting corruption and its incompetency to meet the expectations of Moroccans. Up until now, Moroccans haven’t yet seen the promises made by the party materialize into reality.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily express Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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