Mourad Beni-ich - Washington, DC
Mourad Beni-ich – Washington, DC
The political turmoil in the Arab world, commonly known as “Arab Spring,” paired with a global economic crisis have deepened the gap between leaders and their people. However, in theory, they should have come together to be stronger and united to sail the ship to safety with minimal damage to the smooth operation and functionality of the political and social institutions.
But what we have been witnessing for the past twelve months or so was a total mishandling of the serious concerns and demands of the protestors that took to the streets by those leaders who were selected to prepare a “McSolution” to calm the crowds and serve it almost immediately in a plastic plate – and I say selected instead of elected; the political game is far more complex than many might think .
A quick analysis of the recent development in the political scene in Morocco, one can only conclude one of two things: either the current government is working on implementing the reforms it has promised during the electoral campaign and facing structural difficulties, and at the same time is subjected to a dirty conspiracy to be sabotaged and therefore dissolved; or worse, the country is simply run by amateurs who are lacking the basic understanding of bipartisanship and politics in general.
And although Morocco has been living through an unprecedented government crisis for several months; the palace is taking its time addressing it. So where is the kingdom of Mohammed VI heading?
Has the Moroccan political class gotten the message? The country is going through a serious crisis after Istiqlal (Independence Party), the second most powerful political force in parliament, withdrew from the government officially as from July 9th, 2013, a move that can destabilize the stability that made Morocco a unique model since Arab nations revolted against their leaders and governments. But the king seems to have ignored the matter. After returning from a long visit to France, where he had been since May 10th, and over a month later his first public activity was to attend the June 15thschool graduation ceremonies at the Royal College, which his son, Crown Prince Moulay Hassan, and his daughter, Lalla Khadija, attend.
The government had been counting on a royal intervention to put an end to the disputes between Istiqlal and the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD). Upon his return, the monarch met with the Secretary General of the Istiqlal who presented him with a detailed report explaining the “reasons” behind withdrawing the party’s ministers from the ruling coalition. Both parties were anticipating the monarch’s “wise” intervention to end their dispute and war of words, but the palace decided to remain silent and neutral up to this moment, and no official statement has been issued.
Ultimately, Istiqlal, through its leader, who without a doubt represents the dusty and rusty old school of politics and does not seem to evolve politically, withdrew four of its ministers, and is awaiting the resignation of the fifth minister and working endlessly to convince the Chairman of the House of Parliament to resign. Such a juvenile and Machiavellian move can only be explained that the opposition is aiming to sabotage the current government and orchestrate a civic coup-d’état, which can drag Morocco into political and social uncertainty. Any beginner in politics can see many similarities in the political scenery between Morocco and Egypt, only in Morocco, the amateur politicians are thinking bigger than their shoes and assuming a role beyond their understanding.
The palace seems to be taking a step back from the problems that trouble the government in order to force the politicians to step up to their responsibilities and many observers prefer to focus on the where the crisis started because they think it could have been easily avoided. What is happening proves that the Moroccan political class is unable to obey the constitutional changes of July 1, 2011. Istiqlal should not have gotten the king involved in its problems with the PJD, and the latter should have never involved the palace in assisting with the running of the government policies, which will be marked in its history as a major strategic failure.
It should be recalled that by withdrawing from Mr. Benkirane’s government on July 9th, Istiqlal invoked Article 42 of the constitution, according to which the king would act as arbiter, and the constitutional articles that provide for the dissolution of parliament and early elections should have been invoked instead. What happened was ultimate absurdity–early elections would be politically and financially costly. In addition, no party is able, in the current configuration, to achieve a majority, and it seems that the entire political class, not just the PJD, is pushing Morocco toward a crisis.
The opposition claims that when the Prime Minister says in every possible opportunity that he is pleased to have the confidence of the king, he is, in effect, forgetting the millions of Moroccans who voted for his party and brought him to power, which is, to certain extent, true. The elected Prime Minister never ceased to hail the monarch and seemed to neglect that the reforms Moroccan were asking for were aiming to reduce the powers of the king and grant more of it to “the people” through their elected officials. This is more proof that the current government, and even the entire ruling coalition, is lacking the political know-how and were rushed to power to silence the critics that all Islamic parties have targeted to be kept away from power, and the events that caused the “Arab Spring” were the long sought opportunity to throw the Islamists under the bus in very tricky circumstances, so all traditional parties will not be blamed for any social, political or economic disorder. This was a master’s coup and hitting more than two birds with a tiny stone. Unfortunately, the lust Islamists had for power rendered them blind to realize this, and they only began to understand the game when they noticed a formation of a shadow government, assigned by the monarch to handle the most sensitive national security issues and key dossiers (such as the ongoing negotiations on Sahara). This was a clear and hidden message to the current government that serious national issues are beyond the understanding of its ministers due to their poor political backgrounds, which explains why the Prime Minister always rushed to the palace for advice and also he, along with many members of his cabinet, were left out during many official royal visits, most notably the visit to Ivory Coast.
But Istiqlal did not budge. It has been insisting on accelerating the pace of change and reshuffling the cabinet in a way that would give the party more ministries, claiming that with 61 MPs, they only had six ministries, while a small bloc like the Party of Progress and Socialism has three ministries for only 18 MPs, which they considered “unusual”. This clearly shows the political greed of the oldest political party in the country; it has been known, since independence, for lodging opportunists and those who only care about their personal interests and turn the kingdom to a “family run business” by appointing wives, husbands, cousins and friends to take charge of key ministries to milk the wealth of the country on people’s expense, and the prime example is the previous Prime Minister and his entire cabinet which was nothing but a disgrace to the Moroccan political heritage.
Until now, both parties have been engaged in a merciless media and campaign battle. Hamid Chabat, Istiqlal’s Secretary General, is crisscrossing the country to mobilize his partisans and explain his party’s position.
The Islamists, in return, never miss an opportunity to criticize their rivals. On June 14, at a conference in one of the palaces in Rabat, head of parliament Karim Ghellab of Istiqlal asked his interlocutor to “be polite” and to stop interrupting. The next day, the Islamists demanded an apology. Aside from that incident, the debate has gotten so heated that relations between the two sides seem irreparable.
Moroccan political scene became a joke and a fertile subject to attract larger audiences. During this absurd period in Moroccan history after the Arab Spring, the debate between two sides is delighting the press and news sites, and how can the video showing Chabat asking the prime minister to go see a “marabout” [religious scholar] for treatment would not the funniest political gaffe of all time? Morocco has been simply experiencing absurd politics for months now, and the whole situation seems to be deteriorating, and with no clear signs to create the needed harmony between both parties to prevent a much serious social crisis that will certainly lead to a very complex and chaotic social uprising. We all have started to hear of these new movements condemning the government and demanding its immediate resignation and calling for early parliamentary elections.
From what it has been stated, there must be an immediate solution to resolve this political crisis, or Morocco will be heading steadily towards the Egyptian scenario. Moroccans have lost faith in all political parties, they have pretty much tested all of them and none of them proved worthy and showed the willingness to serve them and answer their concerns with pragmatism, and bring forth a road map to land safely socially and economically.
And although this will not happen, it has been proven that when Morocco had a technocrat in charge of the government all institutions were run smoothly and there was literally no social upheaval, and maybe it is about time that the king steps up and resumes his powers as a leader and assign a competent and experienced politician as a Prime Minister who will choose his cabinet freely from the best members of all parties, including PJD. Moroccans need security and stability, and they can compromise to sustain those two essentials.
As per political parties, I think that now and more than ever, people realize that no matter what color a party represents, it only serves its agenda and members, and what they offer to the people are less than what was expected from them, whether socialist or Islamist, they are all the same, and anyone who questions this can only dig at the personal accounts of the ministers of the previous government and especially the one who transferred over $2 Million to purchase 2 luxury apartments in a European country, and yet she stands before some committee to justify how a minister can have that amount of money!
It is about time that Moroccans unite and remain calm; it is a very a dangerous time with all the events occurring in many neighboring countries, the urge to solve this dilemma is imminent and cannot wait any longer. The longer it waits, more cracks will be caused with the layers of the society, and before Morocco knows it, they will be embracing the Egyptian model with open arms, and that will not be pretty!
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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