The council, which met Monday, was quite eventful. King Mohammed VI chaired the event at which several major issues were discussed, including Bill 44.18 on compulsory military service. The bill has fueled debate among Moroccans of all ages.
Like Monday’s government council, the ministerial meeting also approved the bill. However, details were only unveiled later in the evening after both councils approved it. The draft bill must be passed by Parliament to come into effect.
‘To inculcate the spirit of citizenship’
According to a statement issued after the ministerial council, the government asserts that the purpose of compelling military service is to “inculcate the spirit of citizenship in young people as part of a correlation between the rights and duties of citizenship.”
The bill on military services is in accordance with Article 38 of Morocco’s constitution, emphasizing that citizens—both men and women—should contribute to the defense of the homeland and its territorial integrity. For this purpose, citizens would be subject to mandatory military service in accordance with the terms and conditions in the bill.
Are women included? The answer is yes. Both men and women aged 19 to 25 are subject to a 12-month military service, according to the bill.
Article 1 of the bill says that people with a physical illness certified by a medical report would be exempt from the service. Young students and people who support their families financially can also be exempted. The bill determines the cases of exemption and that an individual whose exemption expires—due to finishing schooling, for example—may still be called upon for service until the age of 40.
Young people who have been sentenced on criminal charges or to an imprisonment of more than six months are excluded from military service until they are rehabilitated, according to Article 2.
You people in the military service will receive payment at the end of the training period, according to Article 5. Article 6 of the bill noted that the conscripts are “subject to military laws and regulations, including Law Number 108-13 on military justice, Law Number 01-12 on fundamental guarantees for the FAR [Royal Armed Forces] military and Decree Number 1-74-383 approving the regulations of the general discipline in the FAR.”
According to the same article, the conscripts will receive grades according to FAR’s current hierarchy standards.
Conscripts with technical or professional skills, according to Article 7 of the bill, may be called to fulfill specific missions within military administrations after completing the common basic training governed by the provisions of Articles 37 and 38 of FAR’s regulations on general discipline.
Conscripts who do not belong to a certain category, such as civil servants and public sector employees, would benefit from pay and allowances at rates fixed by regulation, according to Article 8.
The reward, according to the same regulation, is exempt from any tax. Clothing and food would be provided for individuals in all grades, according to Article 9.
Article 10 of the bill emphasizes that conscripts will benefit from medical coverage, death and disability insurance, and medico-social assistance.
Prison and fines for dodging military service
Article 13 of the bill warns potential conscripts that after their release, they must keep all information confidential, in particular anything concerning the facts, information, and documents of which they have been informed.
According to Article 15, people who miss the authorities’ call without giving strong justification would be punished with one to three months in prison and a fine of MAD 2,000 to MAD 5,000.
Many Moroccans applauded the idea, emphasizing that it would be an excellent idea if the younger relatives of officials and ministers were not exempted.
How was the bill approved so quickly?
It all started with a press release issued Friday, August 17. The cabinet said that it would discuss “Bill 44.18 on Military Function” at the government council on Monday, August 20.
To some people, the government’s decision to discuss the obligatory military service was a surprise. Some media outlets questioned whether such an action could be taken “overnight.” However, the bill received a nod from Monday’s ministerial council, as well as from the government council.
First, the government council approved the bill on compulsory military service. A few hours before King Mohammed VI’s speech for the 65th anniversary of the Revolution of the King and the People, the monarch chaired a ministerial meeting where the question was discussed.
In the King’s presence, the ministerial council approved the bill. However, the details of the bill were only unveiled last night after King Mohammed VI’s speech to the nation.
If passed in parliament, it would not be the first time Morocco has mandatory military service. On June 9, 1966, Morocco introduced an 18-month mandatory military service in accordance with Royal Decree 137-66.
Morocco reduced the length of service to 12 months in 1999. But in 2006, King Mohammed VI abolished mandatory military service.
Other countries with compulsory military service include: Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, Burma, Thailand, South Korea, and North Korea.