By Said Temsamani
By Said Temsamani
Morocco World News
Washington, June 21, 2013
Since 2011, the winds of social and political rumbles breath again. The Arab Spring has changed the face of several regions of the world. A little spark in Tunisia turn into an outbreak worn by millions of people in various countries. Revolutions took place, dictators overthrown, challenges won, but two years later, it is still not clear that the objectives are achieved. Things have certainly changed, but democracy remains a chimera. Between Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, … people are in turmoil and uncertainty.
In Morocco 2012 was a pivotal year in terms of human rights, another year rich in social movements. Advances are significant that we can’t ignore. The new Constitution is in itself an undeniable evolution, but still more needs to be done. A year after the massive vote in favor of the new Constitution in 2011, which, for the first time gives primacy to the universal law on the domestic one. Injustice, insecurity, rentier economy and discrimination are no longer appropriate.
The image of the human rights situation in Morocco is relatively mixed. Significant progress, but concerns remain. The first observation, is the solow pace of the implementation of organic laws, meant to convey the spirit of the Constitution. We are facing a legal literature inapplicable on the ground. Hence the sense of a kind of reluctance towards the promotion of the culture of human rights on the ground.
New cases of mistreatment of prisoners were identified in CNDH (National Council of Human Rights). “The government persists in its equivocation not to implement the recommendations of the IER (Equity and Reconciliation Commission).
Concerning judicial reform, everybody recognizes the fact that a lot needs to be done. The Moroccan civil society is working hard to attract the government attention to this sensitive issue. At the instruction of King Mohammed, the Moroccan Ministry of Justice has launched a series of forums on the importance of judicial reform. Scholars, NGO and political leaders are contributing to those national debates in order to elaborate a new judicial system that will reinforce the rule of law in Morocco.
On the social level, we can not say that things have improved. Women in rural areas continue to deliver in unacceptable conditions. Fortunately, Mohammed V foundation took the initiative to develop an ambitious program in those villages to improve the living standards of the Moroccans living there by creating vocational training schools to benefit th youth, boarding schools for rural girls and small clinics.
Finally, the list is far from exhaustive. This means that the road is still long and the battle is not over yet.
The fight continues. Morocco has voiced its firm determination to tackle all sensitive issues that in the past were taboo. This is the real will of change and reform that has been initiated over the last 12 years. Morocco pledged to go ahead with key reforms not forgetting economic growth. Morocco has put forward an ambitious road map to attract more world investments. Highways, high speed trains, new ports and airports all are built and some are still under construction in order to boost investments and make Morocco an attractive investment hub.
There is growing awareness, both at the political and social levels, of the fundamental link between sustainable and inclusive development and stability. The strong vision of modernization espoused by the monarchy based on major investment projects sufficient enough to ensure sustainability and stability in future decades.
In this light, while a crisis could be beneficial to precipitate change, in Morocco this does not need to reach the tipping-point of no return that we have witnessed in Tunisia, Egypt or Libya. In reaction to the first protests, calling for substantial political and institutional reforms, the king has delivered a very important speech on 9 March 2011, as the utmost attempt to quell the discontent by boosting the reform agenda. The most important demand of the newly constituted ‘movement of 20 February’, that spontaneously mobilised to protest in a number of cities in February and March 2011 is the reform of the Constitution.
The king has promised to speed up the process of regionalisation and decentralisation of decision-making, which represent two fundamental aspects of the constitutional reform advocated by the king himself. Regionalisation is based on the extension of the powers of all the regions, on the direct election of the regional councils and on the reform of the composition and the prerogatives of the Chamber of the Councellors with a view to making it representative of the interests of the different regions. This regionalisation plan is part and parcel of a much broader constitutional reform tackling a number of key issues, i.e., the independence of the judiciary, the strengthening of the parliament, the constitutionalisation of the recommendation of the Equity and Reconciliation Commission, the reform of the law on political parties and the strengthening of the accountability of the elected representatives, including the Prime Minister who is chosen from among the members of the winning party or coalition. Finally, constitutional amendments placed emphasis on the principles of the respect of human rights, the recognition of a plurality of Moroccan identities – including the Amazigh one – and the necessity to extend individual freedoms. The king’s speech touched upon very important aspects and strengthened his declaratory commitment to foster change and political reforms.
It is obvious that Morocco faces a window of opportunity to accelerate reforms, such as tackling corruption, curbing unemployment and overhauling the judiciary. This is a window of opportunity that the king has opened, capitalising on existing positive elements, principally a vibrant society and the largely benevolent attitude of Western actors, and instilling renewed credibility in the political system. Furthermore, Morocco has a number of security valves that distinguish it from other countries in the region. First and foremost, it is a stable country.
There remain many unanswered questions, but on one matter there is not an open question: The reforms initiated by King Mohammed should be greeted with gratitude and respect. At long last there is another model for the Arab future, one that Americans and Europeans should embrace wholeheartedly. It is true that there are still challenges ahead of the democracy path n Morocco but the most important is that Moroccans (civil society, political parties and most important youth) have made their irreversible choice to continue their peaceful struggle towards full democracy. Democracy, therefore in this part of the Arab region, is no more a myth. It is a reality.
Said Temsamani, Senior Fellow at the Meridian International Center and former Senior Political Advisor, US Embassy, Morocco. Member of the National Press Club, Washington DC.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy