Washington DC - It is time for a new approach to dealing with the Rif protests. Since the government of PM Othmani has been incapable and unable to fulfill its duty and mission to address grievances of demonstrators around the Kingdom, a commission appointed by the King to investigate the situation in Al-Hoceima is the only way out of this political impasse.
Washington DC – It is time for a new approach to dealing with the Rif protests. Since the government of PM Othmani has been incapable and unable to fulfill its duty and mission to address grievances of demonstrators around the Kingdom, a commission appointed by the King to investigate the situation in Al-Hoceima is the only way out of this political impasse.
A Monarch appointed team with broad powers and an expansive jurisdiction will set an example in the Rif and signal the government’s determination to end corruption, impunity and cronyism around the Kingdom.
Protesters calls for an end to the latitude and incompetence of administrative and governmental officials in Morocco must be addressed. The negligent and corrupt should be investigated, presented to an equitable court of law if crimes are committed, and jailed if convicted. The intent of any investigations and subsequent recommendations must translate into actions that would empower average Moroccans to fight social and political injustices and feel as equals in society.
The creation of a Royal Commission for Rif would likely put an end to the current wave of demonstrations and address many of the protesters demands. It is becoming evident that neither the Ministry of Interior, which handles the security services, nor the government has a clear plan on how to resolve the combustible situation in Al-Hoceima.
The death of Fisherman Fikri, the event that sparked the protests, was a clear case of abuse of power and a disregard to the lives of ordinary citizens. This indifference and contempt of some mid-level state agents and government officials are at the root of the public’s grievances and criticisms.
A commission’s mission statement and scope of work could easily be drafted from many of King Mohammed’s speeches addressing the need for government officials and bureaucrats accountability. Frequent reports of corruption among parliamentarians, elected officials and government employees are evidence that the Royal instructions are not regarded.
Moroccans. Like any other people in the word, want public servants who perform their duties diligently, respectfully and truthfully. The need to carry out these objectives identified by the Monarch on several occasions is key to protecting and enhancing the image of “Makhzen” (a combination of institutions that governs Morocco).
Today the lack of accountability and transparency are the engines driving social and political protests in Morocco. These ailments that exist in all parts of the Kingdom, and not only in the Rif region, are slowly deconstructing the trust between the citizens and their leaders and eroding the respect of institutions that are keys to social peace and stability.
The King and the people need to know the reasons behind the slow progress and absence of several projects initiated by the King in The Rif. The public needs to know the how, the when, the where and more importantly the who behind the marginalization of developments inaugurated by the King and aimed at jump starting local economies.
Only a Royal body investigating past and present social, economic and political predicaments and translating its findings into a blue print that would address needs of all Moroccans could restore public trust in official institutions. Thus, for an investigation to succeed and be an example of official transparency, it should have access to all data and information necessary to complete extensive inquiries. It must, also, enjoy a judicial power to press charges and remove parliamentary immunities when warranted.
This formula would only succeed if investigating entities could carry out their missions with total independence form political and judiciary pressures that may taint their reputations in the eyes of a Moroccan public familiar with empty promises and the near universal impunity when it comes to corruption.
It seems to have become the norm to see small bureaucrats and politicians getting rich quick when it is obvious that these new arrivals do not have the means to amass such fortunes. Going after corruption and misuse of public funds and punishing the culprits are extremely important to any efforts to restore the image of a fair and equitable state.
Morocco’s official institutions are losing respect and reverence each day as the protests in the Rif continues and news of corruptions and mismanagement persist. Only aggressive oversight and actual accountability can overturn such dangerous trend that threatens the stability of the Kingdom.
In fact, impunity and judicial corruption, not the Hirak and its leaders, are the real dangerous hazards to all Moroccans. The time to act is now before these social diseases eat the fabric of society that holds the nation together.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent any institution or entity.
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