Wednesday, December 28, 2011

In Morocco, Pressure Increases For Benkirane To Form Government

In Morocco, Pressure Increases For Benkirane To Form Government


By Morocco News Agency Staff


Rabat, Morocco --- December 28, 2011 ... As anticipated, the recently appointed Prime Minister of Morocco, Abdelillah Benkirane and his coalition partners - Abbas El Fassi, Nabil Benabdallah and Mohand Laenser - are discovering the complexities and length of meaningful, democratic, coalition and government forming negotiations. 

Although their reaching of agreement on joint policies toward the key economic and democratic issues facing Morocco was indeed the main and most important challenge to be met, addressing and resolving the precise personnel issues are far more multi-faceted and thus lengthy undertakings. And herein the Moroccan coalition negotiations are snarled.

There is some unease in political Rabat about the prolonging of the process. Observers point out that Benkiran repeatedly expected the government composition process to be completed “soon” and so informed the media. 

A month after the November 25 parliamentary elections, political observers in Morocco are beginning to lose patience. 

At the same time, tension begins to appear among senior politicians of the four coalition parties. The aggregate impact of the unknown and the lingering personal feuds over positions and nominations is beginning to show. 

Passed-over politicians, particularly veteran local-region politicians, who had resigned to being left out of the government, are increasingly using the overall impasse to pull strings and rely on personal connections in order to make last ditch attempts to improve their lot and perhaps still get a nomination. These individual efforts further tarnish the protracted government forming process.

However, the most recent negotiations rounds in Rabat were not futile. The negotiators made significant progress in finalizing the structure of the Benkirane government. Presently, Morocco’s next government is expected to have 27 or 28 ministers instead of the 29-30 ministers originally envisaged by Benkirane.

Benkirane’s Justice and Development Party will have ten or eleven portfolios, the Independence Party will have six portfolios, and both the Popular Movement and the Progress and Socialism Party will each have four portfolios. In addition, the Government will include three “ministries of sovereignty” - the Secretariat General of the Government (SGG), the Ministry of Defense, and the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs - that will be run by individuals of impeccable professional credentials rather than political affiliation. 

Ultimately, Benkirane is also coming under pressure from legal developments. 

Last Friday, December 23rd, eleven ministers of the outgoing government submitted their resignation to the King in order not to lose their parliamentary mandate as elected Members of the next Parliament. Law in Morocco stipulates that such resignation must be submitted within a month after the parliamentary elections. 

Driss Dahak, the current SGG, formally contacted these ministers and asked them to submit their resignation letters to the King, and the ministers were quick to follow Dahak’s instructions. This means, however, that in the absence of a new government - there are no substitute ministers for these portfolios and deputies and senior bureaucrats now act as de-facto interim ministers. This development only increases the pressure on Benkirane to complete the composition of his government. 



Sunday, December 25, 2011

As World Celebrates Christmas, Morocco Embraces Democracy, Coalition Forms

As World Celebrates Christmas, Morocco Embraces Democracy, Coalition Forms

By Morocco News Agency Staff

Rabat, Morocco --- December 25, 2011 ... On Saturday morning, December 24, Morocco’s Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane announced that major progress had been achieved in the coalition negotiations and that the specific ministerial portfolios to be allocated to the coalition’s four parties would be unveiled within the next couple of days.

“The question of allocation of portfolios should be resolved in one or two days,” Benkirane said. 

The new Prime Minister of Morocco said that he expects the pace of negotiations to accelerate because “things are more clear” for the other three coalition parties. He plans to soon name “the eligible candidates for the portfolios” for the next government. 

Benkirane expects to complete the composition of the new cabinet in Morocco in “the coming days.” Benkirane stressed that the leaders of the four parties were tackling the final touches to the government’s ministerial team. “The announcement of the new government is expected soon,” he concluded.

As expected by analysts, the coalition and government forming negotiations are proving more challenging and complex than originally anticipated by the leaders of the four coalition parties. While the key policy issues in Morocco have been agreed to and common approaches were agreed upon - inner-party squabbling continues within the leaderships of the four parties. Aspirant individuals are pulling strings to reach higher positions on the basis of their party-political past rather than professional qualifications for ministerial positions. Benkirane, however, warned all party leaders that candidate ministers must be nominated on the basis of their expertise and professional capabilities.

According to a senior official of the Justice and Development Party (PJD), the party’s leadership comprehends the position of the designated prime minister. 

“Abdelilah Benkirane wants a strong government, composed of real skills and effective democracy. The PJD knows that there are enormous challenges ahead, and many expectations to be met. All this can only be possible if the proposed ministers are effective,” the official explained. This focus on the expertise and quality of candidate ministers inevitably results in the emergence of inner-party pressure-groups that must be tackled, addressed and resolved.

The situation is not different in the other coalition parties. Abbas El Fassi, Nabil Benabdallah and Mohand Laenser are known to be under pressure to follow more narrow partisan calculations rather than performance criteria. Most of the criticism is directed at the venerable Istiqlal Party because of its inability to disengage from its die-hard old habits. “Patronage, regionalism, favoritism: they are the only criteria that match the choices made by El Fassi,” complained one of the party’s young educated leaders.

All the members of the eight-member high-level high-power commission responsible for developing the government’s joint program in Morocco are cognizant of the magnitude of the challenge. “Consequently, we have to decide, resolve and arbitrate. The task promises to be painful,” noted a senior politician from one of the coalition parties. 

The politician believes Benkirane must have realized that he had committed to the completion of a government “too fast and too soon” and must now adjust his time-tables pragmatically. Benkirane will now work closely with all leaders of the coalition to negotiate the final composition of the government. 

“Negotiations will be sharper on the distribution of portfolios. This is always difficult to do - all the more so if four concessions are required,” the senior politician observed.

Ultimately, senior leaders and politicians of all the coalition parties are in agreement that the main hurdles concerning the composition of Morocco’s next government have been successfully overcome. 

Resolving the outstanding differences is only a question of time. Since all four parties committed to the success of the new Benkirane-led government and the implementation of the new Constitution - their respective leaders and senior members will rise to the occasion and will make the necessary adjustments to expedite the completion of the coalition negotiations. 

Whether it will take the “one or two days” Benkirane predicted or a bit longer is a different matter though.

The Morocco News Agency takes this opportunity to wish all of its Christian readers a healthy, peaceful and Merry Christmas. May we all celebrate life with respect, tolerance and understanding for one another.

 "Let there be no compulsion in Religion." (Sura 2:257).


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Coalition Negotiators In Morocco Report Progress As They Move Towards Democracy

Coalition Negotiators In Morocco Report Progress As They Move Towards Democracy



 By Morocco News Agency Staff

Rabat, Morocco --- December 22, 2011 ... On December 20, the new coalition in Morocco elected Karim Ghellab of the Independence Party as Speaker of the House of Representatives for the term of 2011-2016.

In his acceptance speech, Ghellab pledged “to put the Moroccan citizens’ concerns and expectations at the center” of the House’s action.

The coalition negotiators failed to meet the December 20, 2011 deadline they had hoped to achieve. Back on December 17, the eight members of the Commission responsible for developing the government’s joint program reported to the four party leaders in Morocco that they were hoping to form a government as early as December 20.

Cognizant of the magnitude of the challenge and complexity of the negotiations, Benkirane stressed that “nothing is certain” and that he would not compromise on the integrity, cohesiveness and unity of the new government in Morocco in order to maintain an artificial time table.

“I cannot confirm anything. But if the government is formed on Tuesday, December 20, I will be happy,” he acknowledged.

The Commission will commence discussions on the portfolios to be allocated to each of the four coalition parties in Morocco only after the government’s joint program is formulated, agreed to, and announced.

On December 22, the coalition negotiators reported they were making progress and hoped to complete their work very soon. In response, Benkirane reiterated anew that he and the coalition partners remain committed to the formation of a government of excellence. That he would rather see the coalition  negotiations in Morocco  taking somewhat longer than compromise on the quality and integrity of a political process which illustrates the finest elements of an open and free democracy.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

In Morocco - The Signing of The Charter of the Majority

In Morocco - The Signing of The Charter of the Majority

 By Morocco News Agency Staff

Rabat, Morocco --- December 16, 2011 ... On the evening of December 16, Morocco took another major step toward the forming of the new coalition government. The leaders of the four parties of the Coalition - Abdelillah Benkirane, Abbas El Fassi, Nabil Benabdallah and Mohand Laenser - signed in Rabat the Charter of the Majority.

Benkirane defined the document as a “contract between the components of the next governing majority.” After the signing ceremony in Morocco, Benkirane said that with the signing ceremony, the four majority parties committed to “a common Charter and the structure of the new government.”

 The Charter of the Majority constitutes a major step forward in Morocco’s grappling with the ramifications of the significantly greater authority of the next government as mandated by the new Constitution.

The primary aim is to close ranks within the future ruling coalition. This is a very pertinent issue given the lack of solidarity and homogeneity that had plagued the previous government. The Charter specifies the mutual commitments of the coalition parties. Ultimately, the Charter defines the commitments of the government partners and the political-parliamentary rules of conduct within of the coalition.

The Charter is a framework document defining the relationship between members of the majority, as well as their professional and ethical obligations. The Charter stresses the mutual commitment of the coalition members in Morocco to work in harmony under one leadership and assume all government decisions jointly.

The Charter leads the way to the issuance of the overall the policy statement of the forthcoming government. Toward this end, the four parties formed an eight-member high-level high-power commission that is responsible for developing the government’s joint program. Each party designated two senior representatives.

The Justice and Development Party is represented by deputy secretary general Abdallah Baha and Mustapha Al Khalfi, the author of the party’s electoral program. The Independence Party is represented by two senior ministers of the current government - Nizar Baraka and Mohamed Saad Alami. The Popular Movement is represented by two politburo members - Abdeslam Ma├óninou and Lahcen Haddad. The Progress and Socialism Party is represented by two politburo members who are the authors of the party’s economic program - Abdel Ahad Fassi Fihri and Abdeslam Saddiki.

The work on both the Charter and the joint program clearly demonstrates the commitment of the Justice and Development Party to genuine cooperation and compromise.

In the opening session of the commission, Abdallah Baha stressed that the commission members “must work on the programs of the four majority parties to not only clear points of convergence but also ensure the rights of all.”

In his response, Abdeslam Saddiki called this approach “revolutionary government practice. In the past, the prime minister came with a program.” Members of the commission also plan on reaching out to the country’s economic sector, social partners and civil society in order to understand their concerns and aspirations, and integrate their proposals into the joint program of the government. 

 Moreover, both the Charter and the government’s joint program reiterate the unyielding commitment of all coalition members to sustaining and expanding key social-legal issues such as civil liberties and gender equality. The purpose of this inclusion goes beyond the politically expedient need to allay fears of the Islamists’ ascent or provide cover for the decision of the progressive leaders to participate in the government. The primary objective is to provide an authoritative statement in a formal document reiterating the several public assurances by Benkirane that his government “would not affect individual liberties and would not go against the international commitments of Morocco.”

Commission members in Morocco continue to work during the weekend and reportedly picked up the pace. In their latest progress report to the four party leaders, they expressed hope to form a government as early as December 20. However, Benkirane stressed that “nothing is certain” and that he would not compromise on the integrity, cohesiveness and unity of the government in order to maintain an artificial time table.

“I cannot confirm anything. But if the government will be formed on Tuesday, December 20, I will be happy,” he acknowledged.

Only after the government’s joint program is formulated and announced - will commence discussions on the portfolios to be allocated to each of the four parties comprising the next cabinet to govern Morocco.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Morocco Democracy: Coalition Negotiations Continue

Morocco Democracy: Coalition Negotiations Continue

By Morocco News Agency Staff
Rabat, Morocco --- December 14, 2011... Morocco’s designated next Prime Minister - Abdelilah Benkirane - continued on the path to democracy by conducting coalition building negotiations and consultations. 

Earlier this week he met with the Secretaries General of his main coalition partners - Abbas El-Fassi (the current Prime Minister) of the Independence Party, Mohand Laenser of the Popular Movement, and Nabil Benabdellah of the Party of Progress and Socialism. 
The four discussed a host of issues - ranging from articulating policy principles to selecting candidates for key positions in Morocco such as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. They agreed with Benkirane that the number of ministers and state secretaries of the next democratic cabinet would be between 25 and 30. 

Subsequently, Benkirane issued a statement that the meeting “took place in an atmosphere of brotherhood” and provided “the opportunity to discuss issues Parliament and the mechanisms of development of the government program.” 

He confirmed that the four party leaders in Morocco “decided to intensify meetings to finalize the formation of the government as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, the de-facto majority of the coalition increased by five seats when five members of minuscule parties from the liberal left announced the formation of the Al-Moustakbal (the Future) independent parliamentary group that will support and vote for Benkirane’s government without being part of it. 

Miloud Chaabi of the Environment and Sustainable Development Party was elected the leader and spokesman of the group. 
In the statement announcing the formation of the Al-Moustakbal group, Chaabi explained that this initiative emanates from its firm belief in “the importance of the reform process Morocco is undergoing in the aftermath of the adoption of the new Constitution and the parliamentary elections of November 25, 2011 that illustrate the commitment to democracy, change, institutional reform and achieving sustainable development, as expressed by the Moroccan people.” 
With this in mind, the Al-Moustakbal group intends to act “in support of the commitment to reform and change in the management of public affairs.” With the Al-Moustakbal onboard - the Benkirane government will have a slightly larger majority of 222 seats with 56 percent of the votes. 




Monday, December 12, 2011

Morocco Democracy: On The Threshold of a New Government

Morocco Democracy: On The Threshold of a New Government


 By Morocco News Agency Staff

Rabat, Morocco --- December 13, 2011 ... Over the weekend, the governing bodies of the three parties interested in joining the coalition in Morocco with Benkirane’s Justice and Development Party formally decided to join the government.

On Sunday, the National Council of the Independence Party and the National Council of the Popular Movement both unanimously approved the decision to participate in the upcoming government.

Moreover, the Central Committee of the Progress and Socialism Party also approved by a large majority the decision to join the Benkirane government. These decisions mean that the forthcoming government will have from the start a comfortable majority of 217 seats (55 percent of the votes) - a profound improvement over the narrow 199-seat (50 percent) government Benkirane had been anticipating late last week.

 With these decisions, the meaningful coalition negotiations in Morocco can proceed on such issues as specific policies, the structure of government, and the selection of ministers.

Meanwhile, the public’s confidence in, and expectations from, the Benkirane government are exceeding significantly the support he and his coalition partners received during the elections.

According to a major poll conducted a week ago by the Moroccan weekly Actuel, 82 percent of Moroccans are confident in Benkirane’s ability to run a government and put Morocco on the right way.

According to the poll, 43 percent were “fully confident” and a further 39 percent were “reasonably confident” in the new government.

There is widespread support for Benkirane’s selections of “five priorities: justice, education, unemployment, health and housing,” for Morocco’s next government.




Sunday, December 11, 2011

Morocco Democracy: Benkirane Creates Narrow Coalition

Morocco Democracy: Benkirane Creates Narrow Coalition


By Morocco News Agency Staff

Rabat, Morocco --- December 10, 2011 ....Abdelilah Benkirane, Morocco’s next Prime Minister, decided to expedite the formation of his new government by immediately forming a narrow, small majority government. This way, it would be possible to begin implementing the new Constitution and the new good governance socio-economic policies immediately. The new government’s focus on domestic issues was clearly stated.

“Social issues will be given priority by the incoming government in Morocco, which will put emphasis on the sectors of education, health, employment, housing and justice,” Benkirane told a gathering of political leaders.

In the immediate future, Benkirane’s Justice and Development Party (107 seats - 27%) agreed to form a narrow-majority government with the two parties with whom he reached agreement on the key policy issues - the venerable Independence Party - Istiklal (60 seats - 15%) and the Popular Movement (32 seats - 8%) that is predominantly Amazigh/Berber. Together, the three-party coalition will have 199 seats (50%) - one more than the 198 seats required for a majority.

As indicated before, the trial and tribulations of Morocco’s coalition-building process is far from over. Moroccan parties and their leaders still grapple with the complexities of coalition forming negotiations under the authority and responsibility accorded by the new Constitution.  After first demonstrating interest in joining the government, the National Rally of Independents now decided to join the Authenticity and Modernity Party in the opposition.

On the other hand, the Party for Progress and Socialism (18 seats - 5%) that had broken down the Koutla alliance and thus scuttled the initial coalition negotiations is now having second thoughts given the socio-economic character of Benkirane’s plans.

Mustapha Adichane of the party’s policy committee informed Benkirane’s negotiators that the Party for Progress and Socialism was once again leaning towards joining the coalition. Adichane acknowledged that being part of a government implementing profound socio-economic reforms would be “the best way to serve the interests of the country, even though some voices within the party are [still] calling for it to join the opposition.”

A final decision will be made after the central committee’s meeting during the coming weekend.

Regardless of the trial and tribulations of the initial coalition-forming negotiations, Benkirane still plans on subsequently expanding the coalition with both mainstream-centrist and socialist-oriented parties. He is convinced that it is imperative for Morocco to consolidate a wide, national-unity government that will have the broad-based grassroots mandate required to oversee the implementation of the profound domestic socio-economic reforms Morocco needs.

In his meetings with Morocco political leaders Benkirane stressed that “the current situation is quite unusual and requires everyone to join forces to lead Morocco towards the development that people are counting on.”

He did not try to conceal the differences between his own Islamist Justice and Development Party and the other parties - be their secular socialist oriented or centrist-royalist. He argued that working together in order to meet Morocco’s needs should be the overriding priority of everybody.

“Of course we have our differences at the ideological level, but we are agreed on a number of points,” Benkirane emphasized.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Morocco PM - elect: No Islamic Dress Code

Morocco PM - elect: No Islamic Dress Code



By Morocco News Agency Staff
Rabat, Morocco --- December 10, 2011 .... Abdelilah Benkirane, Morocco's first Islamist prime minister said on Friday that his democratic government would not try to make women dress more modestly. Abdelilah Benkirane is to lead a coalition government in Morocco after his Justice and Development Party (PJD) became the latest Islamist movement in the Mid East to win an election in the wake of the "Arab Spring" revolutions. The party is anxious to reassure powerful secularists in the Morocco establishment, foreign investors, and the tourists who provide much of the country's revenue, that it will not try to impose a strict Muslim moral code. "We are proud that our point of reference is Islamist," Benkirane, the PJD's secretary general and prime minister designate, told a small group of reporters invited to a briefing. "I will never be interested in the private life of people, Allah created mankind free. I will never ask if a woman is wearing a short skirt or a long skirt." "But there are things forbidden by the law. I think even in some European countries, people cannot be naked in public places," he said. On relations with countries in Europe, Morocco's biggest trading partner, Benkirane said: "They are our friends and we need them and they will need us - Morocco not only has historical ties to Europe but philosophical ones." Benkirane declined to answer questions on what economic policies his government would pursue. Economists say Morocco needs to tame its budget deficit, stimulate growth and tackle the poverty and unemployment that are fuelling unrest. Morocco's monarch this week named an opponent of the PJD, Fouad Ali el-Himma as a royal adviser. That appointment could signal an attempt by the palace to rein in the Islamist-led coalition. Asked about el-Himma, Benkirane said it was customary in Morocco not to comment on decisions made by the monarch. "I am forming the new government in a country whose head of state is King Mohamed VI, he is my boss. It is not my business how the head of state, who is my boss, manages his royal court," said Benkirane.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Morocco Elections: Coalition Up-Date

Morocco Elections: Coalition Up-Date


Morocco News Agency Staff

Rabat, Morocco --- December 5 ... On November 30, King Mohammed VI formally appointed Abdelilah Benkirane, the leader of the winning Justice and Development Party, as Morocco’s next Prime Minister in accordance with the provisions of the new Constitution.

The King noted that he was following the new constitutional guidelines requiring the Monarch to choose a Prime Minister from the party which won the largest number of seats in the Parliament. Benkirane reiterated his fealty to the throne and stressed his commitment to follow the Constitution and keep Morocco online with the King’s reforms process.

On December 1, after meeting with the current Prime Minister Abbas Fassi, Benkirane sought to reassure Morocco’s international allies that the country will stay the course. He stated that “it is unthinkable to dismantle Morocco’s historic alliances with the West, which remain based on many mutual interests.” Benkirane further specified that “Morocco’s relationships with France, Spain, Britain and the United States will not change.”

In early December, Benkirane and the PJD leadership focused their coalition negotiations on establishing an even more centrist-mainstream a government that would better represent the Moroccan grassroots. With the Koutla alliance faltering over internal disagreements, senior negotiators for the Justice and Development Party and other would-be coalition partner parties considered reducing the future coalition’s dependence on leftist elements and instead focus on the mainstream bulwarks of Morocco’s society and political establishment as the PJD’s primary coalition partners.

The Justice and Development Party leaders reached out to the mainstream-royalist National Rally for Independents with its 52 seats (13%) as the bulwark of centrist policies. Meanwhile coalition negotiations continued with the venerable Independence Party - Istiklal (60 seats - 15%) and the Popular Movement (32 seats - 8%) that is predominantly Amazigh/Berber.

Consequently, over the weekend, the radical-leftist Progress and Socialism Party opted to rethink a role in the coalition despite the Koutla alliance agreement. On December 4, the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) - another Koutla party - also decided not to participate in a coalition.

“The USFP is now part of the opposition, following a decision made Sunday by its national council,” announced Driss Lachgar of the party’s political bureau. Ultimately, with the Independence Party, the National Rally for Independents, and the Popular Movement as the primary coalition partners of the Justice and Development Party - Benkirane will be in position to consolidate an extremely solid centrist-mainstream coalition of 251 seats (63%) that will enshrine confidence in the continuance of Morocco’s unique character, way of life and policies.

The trial and tribulations of Morocco’s coalition-building process is far from over. The political reforms process of the last five years - that culminated in the ratification and adoption of the new Constitution - find the entire parliamentary-political establishment unprepared for some of the inevitable challenges of coalition-building negotiations.

As the leaders of Morocco’s main parties sit down to begin the inevitable coalition negotiations - there will be bumps merely because of inexperience that will, in turn, prolong and complicate the negotiations process. However, given the unity of the mind about the nation’s most burning challenges and differences mainly on the modalities for their resolution - a viable mainstream-centrist coalition will ultimately emerge.

Thus, after some rancorous coalition negotiations and substantive meaningful compromises - Morocco will settle for stable coalition government focusing on providing good governance and resolving socio-economic challenges without rocking the country’s unique and endearing social order characterized by diversity, pragmatism and moderation.

There should be no doubt that Morocco is on the threshold of profound socio-political and economic transformation. The public at large has great expectations from the new government and the new Constitution, and will give the forthcoming coalition government a grace period to prove itself. Delivering discernible success expeditiously - that is, within a realistic time-frame - will be the only yardstick by which the Benkirane government will be judged by the public and future voters.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Morocco Elections: Future of the Democratic Process

Morocco Elections: Future of the Democratic Process


By Morocco News Agency Staff

Rabat, Morocco --- November 30, 2011 ... The main challenge facing the Moroccan political system was the prospect of voter apathy. In the 2009 local and regional elections, turnout was 37 percent. In urban slums and remote villages, economically poorer elements of society told pollsters that “they did not plan to cast their ballots because they had no faith that legislators would work to improve their lives”.

Therefore, all political parties and the media in Morocco conducted a major awareness campaign in the final few days before the 2011 Parliamentary elections urging the populace to go out and vote. Famous artists, entertainers and other media personalities went public promising that they would “do all they can” to ensure higher turnout than in previous elections. As well, the entire country was covered with official banners urging the people to “do their national duty” and “participate in the change the country is undergoing”. This clearly paid dividends, with the considerably higher voter turnout which was achieved for the November 25, 2011, Parliamentary polls.

Apprehension about a possible low turnout did exist, right up until polling began, but rumors of a boycott by the “February 20 Movement” and its purported message as the cause proved to be erroneous. The quintessence of the intifadas which had spread through parts of the Arab World — a process commonly referred to as “the Arab Spring” — has been grassroots rejection of their failed modern states and regimes in favor of restoring traditional Islamist-dominated alternate forms of governance. 

In this context, Morocco is the exception which proves the rule.

Morocco has been ruled by the Alaouite Dynasty since the mid-17th Century. Being a direct descendant of both Prophet Muhammad and Imam Ali, the King of Morocco has unassailable legitimacy under the most traditionalist and Islamic terms. As is the case in all Western democracies, free and fair parliamentary and local and regional elections give the public venues to express their political opinions and to affect both national and local issues. As a result, the vast majority of Moroccans had no reason to take to the streets.

Moreover, members of the original organizing committee of the “February 20 Movement” withdrew their participation from the demonstrations against the Parliamentary elections once the extreme political character of some of the participating entities became clear. Simply put, Morocco has a combination of a traditionally-legitimate form of government with individual and political freedoms enabling all citizens to express their regional and localized traditions. Hence, there is no evidence of any meaningful grassroots interest in launching an intifada in Morocco. Indeed, the ongoing incitement of Al-Jazeera and other pan-Arab media served only to bring minuscule crowds to the streets.

The ratification of the New Constitution in the July 1, 2011, referendum by an overwhelming majority of 98.49 percent of the voters with a voters’ turnout of 72.65 percent, clearly demonstrated the extent of genuine grassroots support for the Monarchy and the constitutional reforms process.

ISSA has for some years carefully studied the evolution of Moroccan political processes. For example, an International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA) report analyzed King Mohammed VI’s speech of November 6, 2008, and highlighted his decision that Morocco unilaterally implement the “sophisticated process of regionalization” by introducing a new system of local governance.

In this speech, His Majesty announced the launch of a process of profound domestic reforms in Morocco, both structurally (redistricting) and governance-wise (regionalization).

It was with the June 12, 2009, local elections in Morocco, that the people were elected who would be implementing the King’s vision of reform. This made the local elections of significance nationally, and were, then, equally important in positioning Morocco’s viability strategically. This process was compounded and brought to a significant watershed with the November 25, 2011, Parliamentary elections.

As was the case with the elections of September 7, 2007 — which ISSA also analyzed in several reports — Moroccan elections constitute excellent and accurate reflection of the dynamics in Moroccan society because they are inherently free, fair, and transparent. However, this process was taken to new levels of accountability with the June 12, 2009, and November 25, 2011, elections, and this was reflected by the markedly higher voter turnout than the 2007 parliamentary elections, and this higher turnout reflected growing voter confidence.

Of particular importance was that the election process and voter turnout in the four provinces of the Moroccan Western Sahara (MWS) region of Morocco, given that this region — in which the United Nations has taken a particular interest — has been under international scrutiny, with a wide range of claims by external groups.

This was the case in the 2009 local elections, and appeared also to be the case with the November 25, 2011, Parliamentary elections. Without addressing that debate in this report, it was important to note that ISSA’s careful monitoring of polling through urban and rural areas of Sahara showed, as with the 2009 polls:
A higher level of voter turnout than the national average; a high proportion of women voters; a complete absence of any presence by foreign-sponsored groups, or any indication of any influence over voters by foreign sponsored groups; the Algerian-supported and externally-based POLISARIO movement did not contest the elections, and, in discussions which ISSA had with voters at various polling stations, it was expressed that POLISARIO was, in fact, not seen as relevant or a consideration in the political process.

From the standpoint of ISSA’s interest in the conduct of the election, the results in Morocco were strategically important for the transformative nature of what the elections themselves represented, rather than for who, or which parties, were elected. It was the election itself which showed the continued process of the devolution of power and responsibility from the leadership of a unitary state down to Parliamentary, regional and local levels.

ISSA noted in the 2011 elections, as with the 2009 polls, the complete absence of any security concerns in the urban and rural areas visited, and noted, in contrast, the high levels of infrastructural investment throughout the Saharan territory, and the rising productivity of local economic activities, from phosphate and high-value sands mining and exports, to fisheries output and export.

Part of ISSA’s interest in closely watching the election process in Sahara was to be able — as it did in the 2009 election process — to verify or refute political claims made by external groups which had expressed an interest in the region. Quite significantly, the demonstrable integration of Sahara’s population and structures with those of the rest of the Kingdom has also ensured a positive and growing increase in public safety and the rule of law, which has been measured by the reality that the proliferation of narco-trafficking and illegal migration on much Africa’s West and Sahel coastline has been stemmed in the region of Moroccan Sahara.

The Moroccan elections of September 7, 2007, June 12, 2009, and the November 25, 2011, Parliamentary elections were, collectively, among the most free and fair elections globally in recent years.

They were also of strategic importance because they reflected a standard and a methodology which should serve as a model for elections elsewhere. Moreover, they were of strategic importance in that they represented a process by which a nation could re-invigorate its economic and social dynamic through the devolution of democratic processes to every level and geographic aspect of society.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Morocco Elections: Pragmatism, Moderation Will Continue

Morocco Elections: Pragmatism, Moderation Will Continue

By Morocco News Agency Staff

Rabat, Morocco --- November 28, 2011 ...The final results of Morocco’s parliamentary elections were released on November 27. Together with assessments based on the parties’ own political studies - these results constitute a sound base for analysis of what to expect next on the Moroccan political scene.

The two key factors in the results concern the relative powers of the leading parties.

With 107 seats (out of a total of 395) - the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) has a clear plurality in the future parliament. Abdelillah Benkirane, the PJD’s secretary-general, is thus the leading candidate for Morocco’s next prime minister. However, the PJD has only 27% of the seats - or about half of what is necessary for a slim majority.

 Although eighteen parties are represented in the next parliament - only four (beyond the PJD) have large enough a representation to make viable political standing. The venerable Independence Party won 60 seats (15%). The National Rally for Independents (which is a coalition of eight royalist parties) won 52 seats (13%), the Authenticity and Modernity Party won 47 seats (12%), and the Socialist Union of Popular Forces won 39 seats (10%). All other parties hover between single-digit figures and two or single MPs.

This means that the PJD will have to form a major coalition with more than two parties - an extremely complicated political challenge under the best of circumstances. The PJD is cognizant of this. “We are open to all political parties in order to form the government, to the exception of one party [meaning the Authenticity and Modernity Party],” Benkirane said shortly after the final results were announced. In order to ensure the kind of high-quality governance it had promised during the campaign - the PJD leaders would prefer to establish a relatively small cabinet. Toward this end, the PJD is willing to compromise deeply with key coalition allies. “It is not [even] necessary to allocate the majority of portfolios to the PJD,” Benkirane said. 

Ultimately, however, the anticipated establishment of a PJD-led coalition - particularly in the context of the evolving voters’ base - means that pragmatism, moderation and continuity will continue to dominate Moroccan policies.

The main reason for the rise of the PJD in the last few years is that wider segments of society - that is, non-Islamists - shifted support because of a growing belief in the PJD’s legal and social platform. These new supporters are convinced that the PJD is the most likely to deliver good governance and social justice, fight corruption, as well as put the country on the right path to economic betterment for the downtrodden. (This basic trend of voters’ shift to Islamist parties for social reasons was also noted in other Arab countries such as Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan.)

However, many of these new supporters are largely secular and do not practice Islam to the degree favored by the PJD’s original leaders. Moreover, such early PJD policies as banning alcohol are immensely unpopular with them. To sustain the support of, and empowerment by, these wider segments of the population the PJD will have to moderate and compromise - thus retaining Morocco’s diverse and liberal life-style.

Similarly, all political parties and blocs in Morocco have by now comprehended and internalized that the public expect them to focus on domestic social and economic issues - particularly resolve such lingering problems as providing for good governance, betterment of living, viable employment prospects particularly for the youth, further improvement of education, and fighting corruption at the street-level.

The main differences between the leading parties and the PJD are on HOW to attain these goals. Hence, it should be possible for most main parties to attain a compromise on commonly accepted modalities for enacting the profound socio-economic reforms sought after by virtually the entire population. And such substantive agreement on mutually accepted compromises is the most important facet in reaching a viable coalition agreement. 

Presently, the leading candidate for the PJD’s primary strategic partner is the Koutla alliance. The Koutla is a loose alliance of the Independence Party (60 seats - 15%), the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (39 seats - 10%) and the Progress and Socialism Party (18 seats - 5%). The Koutla parties are focused on social issues and the establishment of a Westernized welfare state. As a unified body, the Koutla has impressive political presence - a total of 117 seats (30%) - that exceeds the PJD’s.

Indeed, Benkirane stressed that the PJD has “an affinity” with the parties of the Koutla because they “showed a political maturity”. He added that the Koutla alliance has already expressed willingness to take part in the upcoming coalition government. In order to ensure the widest possible coalition, Benkirane indicated the PJD was also open to include the Popular Movement (32 seats - 8%) in the coalition in addition to the Koutla. Such a coalition would master a respectable total of 256 seats (65%). This will be a narrow-issue government based on a mixture of Islamists and secular Socialists jointly focusing on implementing domestic socio-economic reforms and improvements.

Alas, the political reforms process of the last five years - that culminated in the ratification and adoption of the new Constitution - find the entire parliamentary-political establishment unprepared for some of the inevitable challenges. Hence, as the leaders of Morocco’s main parties sit down to begin the inevitable coalition negotiations - there will be bumps merely because of inexperience that will, in turn, prolong and complicate the negotiations process. However, given the unity of the mind about the nation’s most burning challenges and differences mainly on the modalities for their resolution - a viable coalition will ultimately emerge.

Thus, after some rancorous coalition negotiations and substantive meaningful compromises - Morocco will settle for stable coalition government focusing on providing good governance and resolving socio-economic challenges without rocking the country’s unique and endearing social order characterized by diversity, pragmatism and moderation.

There should be no doubt that Morocco is on the threshold of profound socio-political and economic transformation. The public at large has great expectations from a PJD-led government and will give the forthcoming coalition government a grace period to prove itself. Delivering discernible success expeditiously - that is, within a realistic time-frame - will be the only yardstick by which the PJD-led government will be judged by the public and future voters.



Sunday, November 27, 2011

Morocco Elections: Report by the International Strategic Studies Association

Morocco Elections: Report by the International Strategic Studies Association 

By Gregory R. Copley, President,  International Strategic Studies Association.

Rabat, Morocco --- November 28, 2011... The International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA)1 deployed a team of experienced election monitors to key areas throughout the Kingdom of Morocco to monitor the conduct of the November 25, 2011, Parliamentary elections, which followed the guidelines laid down in the new Constitution of the Kingdom, approved overwhelmingly by the July 2011 Referendum.
ISSA has been conducting research on modern governance and regionalization in countries with diverse population, and, as a result, had also been able to comprehensively study and monitor the Moroccan local elections of June 12, 2009, and also had monitored and studied the September 2007 Parliamentary elections and the development of the 2011 Constitution in the Kingdom. 
The November 25, 2011, Parliamentary polls in Morocco were the 73rd elections conducted in the country since independence in 1956 (the 74th if the Constitutional Referendum of July 1, 2011, is taken into account). As a result, Morocco has had long experience in conducting elections, but has, particularly under the reign of King Mohammed VI, taken the improvement of election processes to be a vital component of national transformation. This was further deepened by the evolution and national acceptance of a new Constitution in 2011 which would — beginning with the process of the 2011 Parliamentary elections — lead Morocco to the status of a full, Parliamentary democracy in the form of a Constitutional Monarchy which would be fully comparable to the European constitutional monarchies which form the framework of modern, participatory governance.
Before discussing the results, it is important to note that all ISSA researchers and monitors, who had unfettered and comprehensive access to polling stations chosen at random throughout the country, found the elections to be among the best-organized and most transparent possible. The November 25, 2011, Parliamentary elections benefited from the experience of the 2009 local government elections, and, with the introduction of a secure new national identity card system, were able to be operated transparently and even more efficiently than the 2009 local elections. There was considerable evidence of an open and community-driven process in which the following highlights should be noted:
1.      Voter lists had been reviewed and scrutinized to ensure that all eligible voters were recognized and verified. This was exemplified, additionally, by the fact that ISSA researchers did not see a single challenge to the electoral lists based on exclusion; nor did we witness any instance of persons attempting to double-vote. This demonstrated a painstaking attention to ensuring that the underlying fairness of the election was beyond dispute.
2.     The organization of actual polling day activities was meticulous in detail, ensuring that polling facilities were readily accessible to voters. Security was consistent but light; there was no sense of a coercive official presence, but there was sufficient evidence to voters that polling stations would be secure. Within the polling areas, local volunteers ensured that there was a significant sense that this was a process governed at grass roots. Moreover, the fact that, without exception, these volunteer polling station officials followed exactly the same procedures for dealing with voters, highlighted the reality that training and documentation for election procedures would be consistent nationally. The Government and the Moroccan monitoring organization, the National Human Rights Council (Conseil national des droits de l’Homme), ensured that election information was available in Arabic, French, and Berber script, in accordance with the provisions of the new Constitution. 
3.     The arrangement of polling station procedures was undertaken to ensure maximum confidentiality and transparency of process. Voter identification was able to be undertaken with efficiency because of the fact that voters had national identification (ID) certificates — which verified that they were, indeed, bona fide citizens — as well as valid and current voter registration numbers. This combination of voter documents ensured that election officials could readily verify and check off voter participation. Significantly, all voters’ qualifications were checked by two separate officials working from identical local voter registration lists. The process was under the scrutiny of a panel of monitors from the political parties present in every polling room.
4.     Weather for election day was optimal for full voter participation; temperatures were mild. Voting stations opened at 8am (08:00 GMT) and closed at 7pm (19:00 GMT). Average age of the voter population is young: 57 percent of Morocco’s 13.6-million eligible voters are 35 or younger. Indicative of the importance of the elections to the Moroccan political establishment is that 5,873 candidates from 31 parties were seeking to fill the 395 seats of Parliament; 70 of them earmarked for young and woman candidates.
5. Initial results, as announced by Interior Minister Taieb Cherqaoui on the evening of November 25, 2011, indicated that voter turnout in the 2011 Parliamentary elections stood at around 45 percent nationwide. This turnout thus exceeded the 37 percent of the 2007 Parliamentary elections. Data collected and analyzed by the Moroccan Interior Ministry pointed to a building voters’ momentum toward the closing of the elections. Voting started slow. By noontime, voter turnout stood at 11.5 percent. However, by 3pm (15:00 GMT), voter turnout stood at 22.4 percent, and at 5pm (17:00 GMT), voter turnout reached 34 percent. By 7pm (19:00 GMT) when the polling stations closed down, the voters’ turnout stood at 45 percent. Voter turnout, while still below the 50 percent mark, pointed to a growing confidence in the role of Parliament and democracy in charting the nation’s course. 
6.      ISSA researchers were able, on a random basis, to monitor the counting of votes at a local level after polling stations closed. Again, under the monitoring of a range of officials from different parties and volunteer management, there was little or no opportunity for, and no evidence of, attempts to interfere with or distort the counting process.
7.     Logistical arrangements for the conduct of the elections by the Ministry of Interior reflected a painstaking demonstration of the Government’s clear desire to be seen to avoid interference with, or influence over, the processes. At the same time, however, the Ministry of Interior ensured that there was at no time any lack of appropriate numbers of ballot papers, ballot boxes, secure voting booths, and processing officials and voter lists. Within this framework, quite apart from the extensive preparations by a large number of public officials, the devotion to preparation and conduct of the polling day activities by volunteers was remarkable for the seriousness with which the process was addressed. 
8.     To reiterate, the attention to the preparation of new voter lists for this election, the broad delivery into the populace of secure national ID cards, and the delivery to voters of voter registration cards, coupled with the on-site polling station scrutiny and the physical marking of each voter’s hand with indelible dye after voting, ensured that voting fraud was difficult, if not, in practice, impossible. This reflected an improved level of preparation and security from even the impressively-organized parliamentary election in Morocco in September 2007 and local elections of July 2009. Moreover, the lack of any protests based on allegations of voter, or official, fraud post-election was indicative — as with the 2009 elections — of the transparency with which the process was viewed by citizens and political parties alike, confirming the legitimacy of the elections. The entire process reflected a new high-point for the conduct of elections worldwide, and should be seen as a template for other nations.
As a result of a review of the pre-election preparations and the conduct of the elections, ISSA considers the constitutional reform process in Morocco to be of strategic significance. 
Anecdotal Observations from ISSA Monitors:
A statement by the ISSA team of Dr Klara Knapp and Prof. Dr Klaus Lange, both ITS Germany,  visiting three different voting districts in Fez with 24 polling stations, included the following remarks, which typified the observations of all the ISSA teams throughout the country: “Neither outside the polling stations nor inside, could the team observe any attempt to influence or intimidate voters. Moreover voters declared that also in the run-up to the election there was no attempt to incorrectly influence voting behavior. 
The voting process was observed in all cases to have been conducted in an absolutely correct way. On this point there was also unanimous consent by the members of different parties observing the voting procedure inside the polling stations. The team concludes that there is no reason whatsoever to question the validity of the elections. No indication of inappropriate handling of the voting process could be detected.”
ISSA Monitor Kevin Harrigan, of the UK, noted — as did all members of the monitoring team — the absolute consistency of format, signage, and protocols at all the polling booths, and a high level of understanding of the process by polling station volunteers. It was also noted that the polling booth volunteers all showed a consistent neutrality toward voters, and provided a safe and secure atmosphere for voters. This was clearly as a result of clear operating instructions for all election teams, coupled with a strong sense of commitment to the democratic process being implemented.
The ISSA monitoring team in Layoune, in the Sahara, led by ISSA monitors Indranil Banerjie (India) and Yoichiro Kawai (Japan), also noted an absence of problems and issues at the polling stations they inspected, a fact which was significant given the international attention on Moroccan Western Sahara because of earlier irredentist claims. “The areas we visited were in the desert region of southern Morocco, which is considered [by some international commentators] as disputed territory, and has UN observers to ensure the ceasefire between government and rebel forces. 


The area is inhabited by nomads who tend goats and sheep and by small settled populations in a few urban centers,” their report noted. They continued: “We found a lot of young people at the polling booths and most expressed the idea that electing good, young candidates would help improve their lives particularly in the areas of employment, education and health.”
“Miraim, 29, a student pursuing a Masters programme in Arab Literature said she voted for a young candidate whom had promised to bring jobs to the young educated people of Layoune. She felt that young candidates would help ensure that the government allocates sufficient resources to create jobs and improve educational and health facilities. She also stated that it was the duty of young people to vote or else the space left would be occupied by destructive forces.”
“At the desert village of Foumeloued, 21-year-old Nabghouha, said she and her friends had voted for a young candidate in the hope that he would usher in changes for the better, particularly in the areas of education, work and social conditions. She denied that anybody had influenced her voting decision.
ISSA monitor Lee Mason (US) observed polling stations in Marrakesh with Ambassador James (Joe) Bissett (Canada). Their report noted: “The polling operations were well-organized, professional, and with a proper involvement of the public administration; the polling station teams knew what had to be done; everybody knew where to go and what to do. [Political] party observers were mostly young, and included many young women. Also on hand to scrutinize polling were representatives of women’s groups and allied groups, including those concerned with the participation of disabled persons. 
Systems in use in the polling were identical from station to station: a standard operating procedure was clearly in place. There was a sense of stability; the polling stations were tranquil, easy. Using schools was wise: parents vote where their children study. This was community activity in a secular sense. There appeared to be no constraints; both young and old women were arriving alone or in groups at the polls, in traditional dress or in modern Western attire.”
The remarks by these ISSA monitors reflected the anecdotal evidence of the entire team.
The report by the ISSA team covering two constituences in Casablanca noted the organizational structure in each polling area throughout the Kingdom. The report, by Dr Darko Trifunovic (Serbia) and Boyan Chukov (Bulgaria), noted: “Each voting unit comprises an elections commission which comprises a president of the commission, a vice-president, secretaries, and a senior member. The president ensures the efficient procession of the voting process and is in charge of the whole unit, together with the vice-president; secretaries are in charge of the voter list. The senior member keeps one of the [transparent] voting box keys while the president keeps the second one. It is also worth mentioning that all committee members are non-partisans.”
Challenges to the Development of the Moroccan Democratic Process:
The main challenge facing the Moroccan political system was the prospect of voter apathy. In the 2009 local and regional elections, turnout was 37 percent. In urban slums and remote villages, economically poorer elements of society told pollsters that “they did not plan to cast their ballots because they had no faith that legislators would work to improve their lives”. Therefore, all political parties and the media conducted a major awareness campaign in the final few days before the 2011 Parliamentary elections urging the populace to go out and vote. 


Famous artists, entertainers and other media personalities went public promising that they would “do all they can” to ensure higher turnout than in previous elections. As well, the entire country was covered with official banners urging the people to “do their national duty” and “participate in the change the country is undergoing”. This clearly paid dividends, with the considerably higher voter turnout which was achieved for the November 25, 2011, Parliamentary polls.
Apprehension about a possible low turnout did exist, right up until polling began, but rumors of a boycott by the “February 20 Movement” and its purported message as the cause proved to be erroneous. The quintessence of the intifadas which had spread through parts of the Arab World — a process commonly referred to as “the Arab Spring” — has been grassroots rejection of their failed modern states and regimes in favor of restoring traditional Islamist-dominated alternate forms of governance.  


In this context, Morocco is the exception which proves the rule. Morocco has been ruled by the Alaouite Dynasty since the mid-17th Century. Being a direct descendant of both Prophet Muhammad and Imam Ali, the King of Morocco has unassailable legitimacy under the most traditionalist and Islamic terms. 
As is the case in all Western democracies, free and fair parliamentary and local/regional elections give the public venues to express their political opinions and to affect both national and local issues. As a result, the vast majority of Moroccans had no reason to take to the streets. 


Moreover, members of the original organizing committee of the “February 20 Movement” withdrew their participation from the demonstrations against the Parliamentary elections once the extreme political character of some of the participating entities became clear. Simply put, Morocco has a combination of a traditionally-legitimate form of government with individual and political freedoms enabling all citizens to express their regional and localized traditions. Hence, there is no evidence of any meaningful grassroots interest in launching an intifada in Morocco. Indeed, the ongoing incitement of Al-Jazeera and other pan-Arab media served only to bring minuscule crowds to the streets. 
The ratification of the New Constitution in the July 1, 2011, referendum by an overwhelming majority of 98.49 percent of the voters with a voters’ turnout of 72.65 percent, clearly demonstrated the extent of genuine grassroots support for the Monarchy and the constitutional reforms process. 
ISSA has for some years carefully studied the evolution of Moroccan political processes. For example, an ISSA report analyzed King Mohammed VI’s speech of November 6, 2008, and highlighted his decision that Morocco unilaterally implement the “sophisticated process of regionalization” by introducing a new system of local governance. In this speech, His Majesty announced the launch of a process of profound domestic reforms in Morocco, both structurally (redistricting) and governance-wise (regionalization). 
It was with the June 12, 2009, local elections, then, that the people were elected who would be implementing the King’s vision of reform. This made the local elections of significance nationally, and were, then, equally important in positioning Morocco’s viability strategically. This process was compounded and brought to a significant watershed with the November 25, 2011, Parliamentary elections.
As was the case with the elections of September 7, 2007 — which ISSA also analyzed in several reports — Moroccan elections constitute excellent and accurate reflection of the dynamics in Moroccan society because they are inherently free, fair, and transparent. However, this process was taken to new levels of accountability with the June 12, 2009, and November 25, 2011, elections, and this was reflected by the markedly higher voter turnout than the 2007 parliamentary elections, and this higher turnout reflected growing voter confidence. 
Of particular importance was that the election process and voter turnout in the four provinces of the Moroccan Western Sahara (MWS) region of Morocco, given that this region — in which the United Nations has taken a particular interest — has been under international scrutiny, with a wide range of claims by external groups. This was the case in the 2009 local elections, and appeared also to be the case with the November 25, 2011, Parliamentary elections. Without addressing that debate in this report, it was important to note that ISSA’s careful monitoring of polling through urban and rural areas of Sahara showed, as with the 2009 polls:
(i)                A higher level of voter turnout than the national average;
(ii)              A high proportion of women voters;
(iii)            A complete absence of any presence by foreign-sponsored groups, or any indication of any influence over voters by foreign sponsored groups;
(iv)            The Algerian-supported and externally-based POLISARIO movement2 did not contest the elections, and, in discussions which ISSA had with voters at various polling stations, it was expressed that POLISARIO was, in fact, not seen as relevant or a consideration in the political process;
From the standpoint of ISSA’s interest in the conduct of the election, the results were strategically important for the transformative nature of what the elections themselves represented, rather than for who, or which parties, were elected. It was the election itself which showed the continued process of the devolution of power and responsibility from the leadership of a unitary state down to Parliamentary, regional and local levels. 
ISSA noted in the 2011 elections, as with the 2009 polls, the complete absence of any security concerns in the urban and rural areas visited, and noted, in contrast, the high levels of infrastructural investment throughout the Saharan territory, and the rising productivity of local economic activities, from phosphate and high-value sands mining and exports, to fisheries output and export.
Part of ISSA’s interest in closely watching the election process in Sahara was to be able — as it did in the 2009 election process — to verify or refute political claims made by external groups which had expressed an interest in the region. Quite significantly, the demonstrable integration of Sahara’s population and structures with those of the rest of the Kingdom has also ensured a positive and growing increase in public safety and the rule of law, which has been measured by the reality that the proliferation of narco-trafficking and illegal migration on much Africa’s West and Sahel coastline has been stemmed in the region of Moroccan Sahara. 
The Moroccan elections of September 7, 2007, June 12, 2009, and the November 25, 2011, Parliamentary elections were, collectively, among the most free and fair elections globally in recent years. They were also of strategic importance because they reflected a standard and a methodology which should serve as a model for elections elsewhere. Moreover, they were of strategic importance in that they represented a process by which a nation could re-invigorate its economic and social dynamic through the devolution of democratic processes to every level and geographic aspect of society. 


The International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA) is a worldwide, non-partisan organization for strategic policy officials. It has no political or ideological affiliations. It is based in Washington, DC, and has representatives around the world. See www.StrategicStudies.org.