Critics said the alleged move comes at a time when Moroccans are kept in the dark about any advancement on the CSMD’s work plan.
Rabat – The President of the Special Committee in Charge of Morocco’s New Development Model (CSMD) and Ambassador of Morocco in France Chakib Benmoussa is receiving heavy criticism for allegedly sharing a progress report with the French ambassador to Morocco, Helene Le Gal.
The CSMD announced in a tweet on Friday that King Mohammed VI has extended the deadline for the committee to present its proposed development model by six months.
Le Gal retweeted the CSMD statement and extended her gratitude to Benmoussa for allegedly updating her on the committee’s work progress.
“I thank Chakib Benmoussa, President of CSMD Maroc and Ambassador of Morocco to France for presenting the progress report of the CSMD: very good prospects for the new economic pact,” Le Gal wrote on June 5.
Her tweet did not go unnoticed, rapidly stirring controversy among internet users, with some questioning the necessity to inform the French ambassador of Morocco’s affairs.
Others have sarcastically questioned whether or not Morocco is still “under the French protectorate” without the knowledge of its citizens.
Critics have lashed out at the move, stressing that it came at a time when Moroccans are generally kept in the dark about any advancement on CSMD’s work plan.
Hours later, the CSMD tweeted that Benmoussa held talks with Le Gal via a videoconference at her request, following similar discussions with “ambassadors of friendly countries and representatives of international institutions.”
“The conversation was an opportunity to discuss the relations between France and Morocco and between Africa and Europe” in a post-COVID-19 context, in addition to the repercussions of the crisis and the challenges it presented, tweeted the CSMD.
‘By Moroccans, with Moroccans, for Moroccans’
In an interview with Moroccan news outlet Medias24, Benmoussa said his discussions with diplomats such as Le Gal are standard, evoking previous initiatives of the American and British ambassadors with whom he maintained talks during the lockdown.
French-Moroccan relations and Africa-France-Europe relations were at the center of the high-level discussions, he said.
Since France and Europe “announced plans for Africa,” Benmoussa stated that he wanted to know what these plans mean for Morocco and its development model.
“If we are moving towards a Europe open to Africa, Morocco is in a position to play an important role,” the CSMD president told Medias24 on Saturday.
The ambassador did not further elaborate on the nature of the French and European plans for Africa.
He categorically denied allegations that he presented a progress report to Le Gal during their discussion. “The commission is mandated by His Majesty the King. It is obvious to me that the primacy of this work belongs to His Majesty and no one else,” he stressed.
“This work is built by Moroccans, with Moroccans, for Moroccans This is the fundamental orientation that has been set for us,” Benmoussa continued.
Tasked with finding urgent and appropriate socio-economic solutions to better undertake reforms in Morocco, King Mohammed VI appointed Benmoussa to chair the CSMD in November 2019.
The committee’s first report was due this month, but faced with the COVID-19 outbreak, the CSMD requested the King extend the deadline by a further six months to meet citizens’ aspirations for the development model.
“The situation has changed, the expectations of Moroccans have changed, the world has changed,” Benmoussa explained.
“Confinement has also [interrupted] our work since it is strongly based on interactions with citizens,” the CSMD president added. “The context has changed in the short term and we lack visibility.”
“We will have to integrate in a much stronger way the new reality of Morocco, the new reality of the world, and the expectations of the citizens,” he concluded.
The commission is now set to deliver the new development plan in early January 2021.