Rabat - On Saturday, King Mohammed VI delivered one of the strongest speeches of his 18 years of reign.
Rabat – On Saturday, King Mohammed VI delivered one of the strongest speeches of his 18 years of reign.
The speech, which is traditionally a “state of the union”-type address celebrating Throne Day, saw the monarch lash out at the political elite and harshly criticize public officials.
The monarch accused politicians and elected officials of competing for political gains, neglecting their duties, seeking the limelight when things are good, and hiding behind the royal palace when they things get out of control, particularly during the crisis of months-long protests in Al Hoceima in Rif region.
Mohammed VI expressed his clear distrust for Morocco’s politicians, many of whom he accused of being“traitors” to their people, homeland, and King.
“If the King of Morocco is not convinced of the way political activity is conducted and if he does not trust a number of politicians, what are the citizens left with?” said the monarch.
Afterthe King’s speech ended a huge debate ensued in news and social media. Academics, journalists, political activists, and ordinary citizens commented the contents of the royal speech, with some praising it and others more critical.
Revolutionary, or Illusionary?
Mohamed Bouden, a political analyst and the president of Centre international Atlas d’analyse des indicateurs politiques et institutionnels (ACAPII), told Morocco World News that the King’s speech was “exceptional,” both in terms of “language” and “significance.”
Bouden noted that speech “was entirely about domestic issues, unlike previous Throne speeches which dealt also with achievements of [ Morocco’s] foreign policy.”
“This royal speech could be called [a mobilization] against those with narrow interests. It put politicians in a tight corner. Now they neither have the King’s trust nor the people’s. What are they going to do?” he said.
Political commentator Driss El Ganbouri agreed that the speech was highly significant. He told MWN that the King sent “several strong political messages” and uncovered “the opportunism of the political elite.”
Among the “strong messages” the King sent, El Ganbouri cited the monarch’s stress on “linking responsibility with accountability,” one of the key precepts of the 2011 constitution adopted in the wake of the February 20 protests.
“This principle has been practically suspended,” said El Ganbouri.He added that this negligence had sent “negative messages” regarding the management of public affairs.
El Ganbouri explained that “those officials who delayed the projects in Al Hoceima” acted as if the constitution “is merely ink on paper.”
The King’s criticism of political parties and public officials led Abderrahim El Allam, professor of political sciences at the University Cadi Ayyad in Marrakech, to advance counter arguments.
In a Facebook post, El Allam highlighted the fact that, while the King had criticized public departments, doubting their efficiency, many “strategic” public instructions with directors appointed by the King, like national operators of railways, airports, water, and electricity, are not doing well either.
He pointed out that the past few government formations have included ministers not affiliated to any political party, implying that these appointments were imposed by the monarchy.
“Are political parties the [only] ones responsible for the consecutives crises,” he said. “What about the parties that are called ‘administrative’? Were they not created by the state?”
Will It Change Anything?
Proponents of the King’ speech saw it as an indication that old days of laxity vis-à-vis officials not doing their jobs properly are over, predicting that thorough measures will ensue.
“We can see this speech as the beginning of a fierce crusade on not assuming one’s [public responsibility],” asserted Bouden.
El Ganbouri shares Bouden’s optimism. “I predict that the speech will have an effect. The King clearly stated that we are witnessing a new Morocco. If accountability is implemented, we will enter a new era.”
However, others are not lured by the monarch’s promises of “new era” of governmental responsibility and accountability.
El Guemri, an activist and former prominent member of the February 20 movement, told MWN that King Mohammed VI’s criticism of political parties and public officialsis an attempt to from him to deflect responsibility and accuse them causing of Morocco’s ills.
He pointed to the fact that the King is the head of state and highest serving political, military, and religious official in the country, which makes his criticism of other officials, who havefar less responsibility, meaningless.
“Were we in a parliamentary monarchy where the King reigns but not rules, the royal speeches, with its critical tone, would have a meaning and use,” he said.
“But, in the current situation where the King is the ultimate ruler of the country while the Head of Government and ministers do nothing but help in some minor issues, then this becomes a surreal scene with a lot of absurdity in it.”
While political commentators disagree on how significant the King’ speech is, the large segment of Moroccan society that trusts the monarch remains hopeful that his address will truly usher the kingdom’s poltics into a new era.