Home Morocco Draft Law on Mandatory Military Service Stirs Backlash in Morocco

Draft Law on Mandatory Military Service Stirs Backlash in Morocco

Draft Law on Mandatory Military Service Stirs Backlash in Morocco

Rabat – The Moroccan government will discuss a draft bill to reinstate compulsory military service on Monday.

“Bill 44.18 on Military Function” will be among the major topics discussed at today’s Government Council in Rabat, according to a statement issued by the government’s administrative office on August 17.

If enacted, the bill would call for the training of young men 18 and over for national duties.

However, Moroccan news outlets’ reports about the draft law were varied. Quoting unidentified sources from the government, some outlets, including Telquel, said that the compulsory military service will be debated at Monday’s Government Council.

Other government sources quoted by some media, including H24, denied the news. The sources claimed that such changes do not happen overnight.

Throwback to 1966

Morocco introduced 18 months mandatory military service on June 9, 1966, in accordance with Royal Decree 137-66.

According to the decree, the national military training aimed to enable youth to “contribute effectively and in all circumstances to the defense of their homeland.” The measure aimed to raise their standards to contribute “to the development of their country.”

At the time, every 18-year-old Moroccan man had to visit the qaid (governor) of his region, who evaluated whether he was qualified for the military. Men with physical illnesses were exempted from participating in the national military training.

Morocco reduced the length of service to 12 months in 1999. But in 2006, King Mohammed VI abolished mandatory military service.

“This text of law came to abolish the obligatory military service with immediate effect,” former Delegate-Minister for the Administration of National Defense Abderrahmane Sbai said, after receiving the royal instructions.

Quoted by South Africa-based news outlet Independent Online( IOL ) on December 1, 2006, Sbai said that mandatory military service had been breeding a “climate of apathy” as it did not meet “the requirements of professionalism and scientific and technological training.”

Reports of the government council’s decision to discuss the military draft stirred discussions on social media. Some people claimed that the measure would ensure more discipline in the country, while others disagreed.

Many Moroccans took to Twitter and Facebook to discuss the potential bill, saying that the measure would be reasonable if it would include the young male relatives of politicians.

Bilal Jouahri from the Anti-Racist Group for the Defense and Assistance of Foreigners and Immigrants (GADEM) asked why news outlets query citizens about their opinions on the bill as if Morocco is a “country of democracy” and as if people’s “opinion matter.”

It remains to be seen whether the bill will be enacted after the government council.

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