By Youssef El Kaidi
By Youssef El Kaidi
Morocco World News
Fez, May 24, 2013
Morocco’s advanced decentralization plan seems to turn the issue of the Sahara from an international issue to an internal domestic one.
Despite the cautious and very slow yet sure and steady political, economic and social reform in Morocco since the enactment of the new constitution in 2011, the project of advanced regionalization announced by the king as a strategic plan for the elimination of many problems in Morocco is making a remarkable progress. The “roadmap” to this ambitious project was announced by the king Mohamed VI in his speech on November 6, 2008 on the occasion of the33rd anniversary of the Green March.
In March 2011, the Advisory Committee on Regionalization submitted to King Mohammed VI a report on advanced regionalization developed at his request. Therefore, the Kingdom of Morocco seems to be laying the foundations of a new model of regionalization vanguard for the developing countries. Like all major reforms, the overall design of advanced regionalization has been the object of a national debate for awareness-raising and mobilization.
A short report by Marina Ottaway published on Woodrow Willson Center’s website sees that Morocco’s advanced regionalization plan is a step to pull the rug from under the feet of the opponents of Morocco’s territorial integrity because the plan sets the foundations of a “one-size-fits-all system in which all Moroccan regions would enjoy more self-government, with the Western Sahara treated like any other region.”
Under the new advanced decentralization plan, the Western Sahara will be split into three parts and local communities and provinces will be allowed to have a greater say in their own affairs. In regard to the stagnant condition in the development of the issue- especially with the infeasibility of referendum and the stalling in negations between Morocco, Polisario and its Algerian backers over the autonomy plan suggested by Morocco- advanced regionalization is a new fact on the ground that would integrate the southern territories into a new decentralized system and put an end to the issue.
In 2012, the king Mohammed VI reiterated his commitment to the project of advanced regionalization, “making sure that the Southern Provinces are given priority in this process.” The Economic, Social and Environmental Council elaborated a regional development model on the basis of the advanced regionalization plan and it is supposed to submit a final report in October 2013.
Officially, Morocco hasn’t withdrawn its autonomy initiative yet, but as Marina Ottaway argues, “it appears to be grinding it down in the slow but inexorable march of the advanced regionalization glacier. Increasingly, Morocco appears to be transforming the Western Sahara issue from an international one […] to a domestic one that would reform the local government system in the entire country.”
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