Wednesday, 29 June 2011

MoneyGram International and Al Barid Bank Align to Offer Money Transfer Services in Morocco

CASABLANCA, Jun 29, 2011  -- MoneyGram International MGI -0.54%  , a leading global money transfer company, and Al Barid Bank, banking subsidiary of Morocco Post, announced today the achievement of their partnership, adding 1,800 locations in Morocco. With this alliance, new agent Al Barid Bank becomes MoneyGram's largest agent in the country. MoneyGram's service is currently being rolled out by region with all locations to be active by the end of August. With the addition of these branches, MoneyGram will count more than 5,000 agent locations in Morocco.

"We are very pleased that Al Barid Bank has decided to offer MoneyGram's service, this is a significant business opportunity and an excellent alliance for MoneyGram," stated Francois Peyret, regional director for MoneyGram International. "Morocco is a growth market for MoneyGram as it ranks in the top remittance countries in the world. As we continue to add top agents such as Al Barid Bank to our network we are able to better increase our market share in the country and provide a valuable service to thousands of citizens."

"Offering MoneyGram's service further demonstrates Al Barid Bank's commitment to providing a diversified mix of products and services in order to meet our customer needs. This new partnership will allow Al Barid Bank to strengthen its current money transfer offerings," said M. Redouane Najm-Eddine, president and director of Al Barid Bank. "MoneyGram is a respected brand in Morocco and we know our customers will find value in using the service to easily and quickly receive funds from family working abroad."

MoneyGram has been in Morocco since 1998 and recently opened an office in Casablanca dedicated to taking care of its 10 agent partners in Morocco and those in North Africa and West Francophone Africa as well as ensuring a great product for the customer across the region.

According to the World Bank, more than $6.4 billion was sent to Morocco in 2010, making it number 18 in the top 20 remittance receive countries. Countries that send the most money to Morocco include Spain, Italy, the United States, France, Canada, Germany and Saudi Arabia.

About Al Barid Bank

Created on June 8th, 2010, Al Barid Bank is the banking subsidiary of the Morocco Post. Thanks to a recognized know-how and to a network of 1800 locations covering the whole territory, Al Barid Bank offers its services for the largest number, including in the most rural villages. By offering a service of proximity, at adapted price, Al Barid Bank accompanies the banking of Morocco, according to the mission which is assigned to them. Since the creation of Al Barid Bank, the rate of banking has raised from 34% to 47%.

To learn more, please visit .

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The tricky question: Vote YES or NO to the new Moroccan Constitution

Keen observers of Morocco have long argued that the gradual democratization of the rules of the political game will not materialize without bottom-up pressure from ordinary Moroccans. It is public outrage over corruption and political systems oriented around power and privilege that have served everywhere as a catalyst for systemic change. Despite the popularity of the monarchy in Morocco, there has been a growing mismatch between the public’s aspirations for development and democracy and ruling elites’ insistence that the existing institutional architecture is needed to accommodate gradual reforms while maintaining stability.
In the absence of a credible opposition willing to challenge the monarchy’s prerogatives, it seemed only a severe crisis of governance or external shock could force democratic change onto the policy agenda. That moment finally came with the stunning overthrow of the strongmen of neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt. Those dramatic events gave birth to the February 20 protest movement. Despite its relative failure to mobilize large numbers of Moroccans, the protesters—a loose coalition of leftists, liberals and Islamists—injected a new nervousness in the corridors of power. The monarchy quickly grasped that the strength of the leaderless movement did not come from its numbers but from the legitimacy of their demands.
King Mohammed VI’s March 9 speech, in which he outlined parameters for constitutional change, was a direct reaction to the rise of new opposition forces. In an attempt to seize the initiative, he promised wide-ranging reforms, including an elected government and independent judiciary. He announced the formation of an ad-hoc committee entrusted with revising the constitution. The king’s preemptive moves, coming so quickly after the initial protests, helped in stealing some of the opposition’s momentum.

Indeed, the last two months have seen the February 20 movement lose some steam, limiting its ability to reach the levels of popular mobilization seen in Egypt, Yemen or Bahrain. In addition, public perception of the protesters has shifted as the movement struggles to articulate a workable vision for political change while shaking off suspicions it has been hijacked by radical Islamist forces. The horrendous terrorist attack in Marrakesh on April 28—in which 17 were killed—only intensified the uncertainty surrounding the movement and heightened anxiety that social and political agitation could end up benefiting violent Salafi movements.

These fears accentuated with the revolts of Salafi prisoners in May and the hardening of the February 20 demands, as reflected in their calls for cancelling the king’s popular Mawazine Festival (featuring Shakira) and direct attacks on Morocco’s notorious intelligence services (DST) for running secret detention facilities. The protesters’ targeting of the DST came at an inopportune moment, as the agency’s reputation for effectiveness was boosted with its swift arrests of the perpetrators of the Marrakesh attack. The February 20 refusal to back down elicited a violent response from the state’s security services, leading to demonstrations on May 29 in which dozens injured and one killed—the pro-democracy movement’s first “martyr.”

With King Mohammed’s June 17 speech outlining long-awaited constitutional revisions, February 20 finds itself at a difficult crossroads, trying—and struggling—to devise a response to one of the few Arab regimes that has demonstrated a flexible and apparently effective approach to the Arab revolts. Its lack of charismatic leadership and raucous decision-making process have also given the impression of a movement lacking in organizational discipline and riddled with ideological contradictions.

On the eve of the king’s speech, the balance of power between the regime and the protesters had clearly changed from the early months of 2011. In a move that kept labour unions and other syndicates off the streets, the government doubled subsidies, raised public sector salaries, increased minimum wage, recruited 4,300 graduates in the public sector, and cancelled farmers’ debt. Unlike the zero-sum political games of other Arab states facing turmoil, the Moroccan regime skillfully portrayed the promise of top-down reform as a win-win compromise between the old authoritarian constitution and the parliamentary monarchy model demonstrators have been calling for.

The new constitution provides for an “elected” prime minister drawn from the ranks of the largest party in parliament. With the king’s consent, he has the authority to appoint and fire ministers as well as dissolve parliament. Under the proposed reforms, parliament—which had long been relatively weak—now has the potential to play a more assertive role. The exercise of parliamentary oversight of the executive branch is strengthened by lowering the threshold for launching investigations (just one-fifth of its members) and introducing a censure motion against cabinet ministers (one-third). The new constitution also sets into motion a decentralization process, whereby more power is devolved to elected regional councils. On the flip side, the constitution maintains the king’s dominant position in Moroccan politics. He remains the country’s supreme religious and military authority. In matters of security—it is up to the king to decide what exactly that means—he, rather than the prime minister, will have the authority to convene the cabinet. In other words, the king will continue to have veto power over all major decisions.

Despite its failure to significantly limit the king’s powers, the new constitution provides a margin of political maneuverability that did not previously exist. The key question, then, is whether Morocco’s established political parties will use it. The success of the king’s reforms—thus far unrealized—will depend on the ability, or more likely the willingness, of parties and civil society organizations to maintain pressure on the monarchy and push the envelope further. Here, there is little reason to be optimistic. The parties’ responses to the king’s original March 9 speech were disappointing, as evidenced in their timid proposals for constitutional reform.

With few exceptions, none of the parties dared discuss the provisions outlining the king’s religious (article 19), “sacred” (article 23), and legislative (article 29) powers. Even the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), arguably the country’s only credible opposition actor, adhered strictly to the framework that the king laid out in his two major speeches. It should come as no surprise, then, that the political class assured the public that the proposed constitution exceeded their demands and expectations.
It is perhaps unrealistic—and at odds with much of political history—to expect King Mohammed, however benevolent, to voluntarily diminish his own relevance as monarch. Certainly, he can be blamed for falling short of February 20’s expectations, but the legal opposition, including Islamists and leftists alike, bears responsibility for failing to push harder. Of course, it is difficult to determine the origins of the problem. Political parties, after all, were legalized and allowed to participate in elections because they accepted the king’s legitimacy and prerogatives. They operate in an environment where speech criticizing the king—who the constitution considers “inviolable”—is criminalized.

Many Moroccans hold out hope that the youth wings of the established parties succeed in challenging (and perhaps dislodging) their compromised leadership of patronage-driven elites and politicians. Whatever its tangible successes or failures, the effects of the February 20 movement are undeniable. The movement has helped bring to the fore a new dynamic of young political activists mobilizing against entrenched power structures and calling for greater democracy and representation not just in Morocco as a whole but also within the political parties and organizations of which they are a part.

There is now, then, an unprecedented opportunity for both sides. The new constitution empowers the parliament and the political parties to play a more assertive role—if they choose to play it. The threat of revolt and instability—as well as their own indigenous protest movement—give them bargaining power vis-à-vis the king. Importantly, the constitution’s provisions also allow the king to use his unlimited prerogative to block real changes. What he does, and chooses not to do, is critical. As unlikely as it now seems, the best-case scenario is that the king follows the spirit rather than the letter of the new constitution, respects the will of his people, and resists the urge to intervene in affairs of the elected government. Constitutions matter, but what matters more is what people do with them.

This is where Morocco’s friends in the West come in. The time for prioritizing economic liberalization at the expense of democratic reform is over. While Morocco may be more “progressive” than most its neighbours, it is still a state that relies on political restrictions and repression, albeit with a subtler touch. The United States and the European Union should stop heaping praise on Morocco for being a model of reform it hasn’t yet become. American and EU policy must be re-oriented to focus on a number of critical priorities: freedom of association and speech, constraining the powers of the king and the makhzen (royal court), and strengthening the role of elected institutions, such as parliament. Meanwhile, economic aid, as the new European Neighbourhood Policy states, must be linked to the idea of “more for more” with “precise benchmarks and a clearer sequencing of actions.”

King Mohamed has declared his commitment to substantive reform and democratization. It is only fair that the United States and Europe hold him to his own promises. The stakes are considerable. If constitutional reforms lead to separation of powers, independence of the legislature and judiciary, and a monarchy that removes itself from day-to-day rule, the regional implications could indeed be significant. Then—and only then—should Morocco be considered a “model.”

Doomed Press in Morocco

Protestors in Rabat, Morocco call for the release of Rachid Nini at a demonstration on Jun 16, 2011.
Some Moroccans love him; others loathe him. But they all read Rachid Nini, until recently the editor, publisher, and star columnist of Al-Massae, Morocco’s largest newspaper.
In June, Nini became an unlikely free-speech martyr when he was convicted of being a “threat to national security” and sentenced to a year in prison. The story of Nini’s phenomenal rise and fall began in 1997. Then an unremarkable freelance columnist for the center-right newspaper Al-Alam, Nini traveled to the Canary Islands for a cultural conference and decided to remain illegally in Spain. For three years, he worked odd jobs in different cities and, upon his return to Morocco in 2000, published a wildly successful memoir of his life, Diary of an Illegal. He also joined the staff at Assabah, writing a column that became so popular that enterprising street vendors photocopied it to sell it separately. In 2006, buoyed by this success, Nini launched Al-Massae, a newspaper that very quickly outsold all others in the country.

The key to Nini’s popularity is his style, which combines the simplicity of Glenn Beck, the combativeness of Bill O’Reilly, and the humor of Dennis Miller. In his column, “Shouf Tshouf,” he mixes standard and colloquial Arabic, making him accessible to most Moroccans. His sarcasm is aimed at corrupt politicians and greedy officials, but also at liberals, feminists, Jews, homosexuals, and other real or imagined dangers to the nation.
Nini’s columns are often full of hate, but swaddled in piety and nationalism. He has said that Abdellah Taia, a prominent novelist who is gay, shouldn’t have been interviewed on state-sponsored TV; he has accused his rival Ahmed Reda Benchemsi, editor of the magazine TelQuel, of “mocking God and his prophet” for daring to publish a collection of jokes about Islam. And two years ago, Nini pointed the finger at Jean-Louis Servan Schreiber, a Jewish shareholder in Benchemsi’s magazine, suggesting that Schreiber was responsible for its liberal editorial line. Nini’s populist columns earned him the wrath of many, but he remained popular with large sections of the reading public because of his searing criticism of greed and corruption.
Eventually Nini’s bombastic claims landed him in trouble. In April 2008 he alleged in a column that a public prosecutor in the town of Ksar el Kebir had attended a “gay wedding” held in the house of a trafficker. There was never a gay wedding, and the town’s four public prosecutors successfully sued him for libel. The $800,000 fine imposed on him was the largest libel judgment ever awarded in the country. Nini’s reply? This was “judicial terrorism.” Like many journalists in Morocco, he soon became a frequent visitor of police stations and courtrooms, and has several libel lawsuits still pending against him. But despite the onerous fines, Nini somehow managed to hold onto his newspaper.
Earlier this year he got in trouble again when he criticized Morocco’s intelligence service, the redoubtable Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire, saying it should be put under parliamentary oversight. The government’s reaction was swift: Nini was charged with “denigrating judicial rulings” and “compromising the security and safety of the homeland and citizens.” On June 9, he was convicted and sentenced to prison.
The turn of events held plenty of irony. Nini, often the recipient of score-settling government leaks, ended up jailed by the same government whose agenda he sometimes served. And the people who rose to his defense—human-rights activists and journalists—were the same people he often attacked in his writings.
Nini’s incarceration poses a larger problem for Morocco, however. Early last spring the king responded to the widespread demands for change by swiftly announcing constitutional reforms he said would promote separation of powers and the rule of law. But Nini was convicted under the penal code, not under the press code. A one-year jail sentence for an article is the sort of detail that messes up the smooth democratic façade Morocco wants to present to the rest of the world.

Moroccans protest for and against new constitution

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated around Morocco both for and against a proposed new constitution on Sunday, just a week before it is to be voted on in a referendum.
In Morocco's largest city, Casablanca, government supporters first blocked then attacked with rocks a march by thousands of activists, wounding many.
King Mohammed VI announced a new constitution June 17 following unprecedented nationwide protests for greater freedoms in the preceding months.
He said the new document would turn the country into a constitutional monarchy and would widen the space for democracy.
The draft proposal gives the prime minister and the parliament greater powers, more independence to the judiciary and guarantees human rights, gender equality and an equal role to the Berber language.
Pro-reform activists, however, say that the draft, which was drawn up by a commission chosen by the king, leaves the monarch's absolute powers intact. Mohammed VI remains the head of the army and country's pre-eminent religious figure.
Backed by the official political parties, the government has launched an energetic media campaign in support of the new constitution ahead of the July 1 referendum.
Supporters of the government are now organizing demonstrations to rival those of the February 20 pro-democracy movement, often resulting in scuffles between the two sides.
In Casablanca, tens of thousands of pro-government demonstrators from all over the country waved the national flag, carried portraits of the king and shouted slogans in support of the new constitution.
On the other end of town, some 5,000 activists from the February 20 pro-democracy movement marched against the constitution in the lower income Hay Mohammedi neighborhood.
Their march, however, was blocked by young government supporters, mostly shirtless in the heat and carrying pictures of the king.
When they were cleared away by riot police, these young men circled through the alleys of the slum and attacked the opposition rally, hurling rocks and provoking a stone-throwing riot.
At least one police commander was seen getting hit by a stone before calm was restored and the march continued.
In downtown Rabat, the capital, a march of at least 2,000 protesting against the constitution was blocked by police and a few hundred government supporters.
The two groups, separated by riot police, chanted rival slogans. Activists reported brief scuffles and some injuries.
"We have decided since they won't let us march we will hold an open-ended sit in until they let us move," said Omar Radi, an activist with the February 20 movement.
Videos posted on the Feb. 20 website also showed demonstrations in the cities of Tangiers, Marrakech and Tetouan.
The official news agency reported that demonstrations supporting the constitution had taken place everywhere around the country Sunday, involving half a million people.
Like other official media organs, the agency did not mention the demonstrations against the constitutional project.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Rival groups march over king's reforms in Morocco

CASABLANCA, Morocco — Thousands of rival demonstrators marched through cities in Morocco on Sunday over constitutional reforms proposed by King Mohammed after unrest inspired by "Arab Spring" uprisings in the Arab world.

Critics of the reforms say they do not go far enough to reduce his powers. The march against the monarch's measures was the latest in a wave of protests in the North African state and comes days before a July 1 referendum on the reform plan.
"We reject the offers made (by the king). They keep the essence of authority in the hands of a non-elected person who will not be subject to any form of accountability," said Hamid, a jobless 38-year-old among 7,000 protesters who marched through a working class suburb of Casablanca, Morocco's largest city.

Aziz Yaakoubi, a member of the "February 20" pro-democracy street movement named after its founding date, said two of the protesters were injured after being pelted with stones by a group of rival demonstrators in favor of the king's reform.
A smaller rally of about 2,000 people opposed to the king's proposals marched through the capital Rabat, separated from rival marchers by dozens of baton-wielding riot police.
"The police encircled us, they didn't let us march to the parliament," said Najib Chawki, one of the coordinators of the movement, which is urging supporters to boycott the vote. "It shows that the powers in Morocco have no interest in changing."
The 47-year-old king unveiled the reforms this month after some of the largest street protests the Arab world's longest-serving dynasty has seen for decades. His fortunes are being watched by other monarchs, notably in the Gulf.

The new charter still allows him to name a prime minister -- but this time only from the party that wins most seats at parliamentary elections -- and to vet appointments of other ministers and suggest the termination of their mandates.
It explicitly grants the government executive powers, but it keeps the king at the helm of the army, religious authorities and the judiciary and still allows him to dissolve parliament, though not unilaterally as it is the case now.
The Moroccan street movement has not won the mass support that toppled leaders of Tunisia and Egypt and does not demand an end to the monarchy. It focuses instead on the king's perceived growing business influence and his grip on the political system.
National income per head in Morocco was $2,810 in 2009, according to the World Bank, higher than Egypt's $2,070.
But Morocco ranks 13 places below Egypt at 117th in the United Nations' Human Development Index, a measure of quality of life based on factors such as child welfare and life expectancy.
"Surely there is graft and a lot of oppression. But the new constitution will change everything," said 19-year-old Casablanca resident Karim Azhari.
"It will bring state education up to the same level as the private sector and it will reduce unemployment," he said. Asked why he thought that, he replied: "That's what they tell us."
Authorities on Friday ordered mosque preachers to urge worshippers to vote for the reform, saying it would be unIslamic to disobey the king, described in sermons as "God's appointee."
Mustapha Nazih, a cleric at a pro-reform march in Casablanca organized by Boutchichiya Zawiya, one of Morocco's biggest and wealthiest sufi schools, said he had come all the way from the town of Beni Mellal, 300 km (190 miles) from Casablanca.
"We didn't have to pay for the bus fare. The Islamic Affairs Ministry asked us to come to Casablanca and we did so happily."

Morocco braces for clashes over reform plans

RABAT — Moroccan officials are organising local inhabitants to confront pro-democracy demonstrators planning a peaceful protest on Sunday, rights activists said.
"Violence targeting the youth of the February 20 movement backed by local authorities is dangerous and is worrying," the Moroccan Human Rights Association (AMDH) wrote in a letter to the interior ministry.
"Authorities are taking advantage of the inhabitants' socio-economic hardships to set them up against the young people who demonstrate peacefully," it added.
Journalist Khalid Jamai working for the news website ("We will not give up") linked to the movement wrote: "Thanks to this strategy, the central power intends to sub-contract its repression."
Communication Minister Khalid Naciri rejected the activists' claims, writing to AFP of "spontaneous gatherings of people who support the government's project for constitutional reform."
And most political parties have called for "massive" counter-rallies every day across Morocco until June 30 to support the king's proposals, which are to be put to a referendum on July 1.
Pro-democracy demonstrators have rejected constitutional reforms proposed by King Mohammed VI earlier this month to curb his power.
They involve boosting the authority of the prime minister, who would become the "president of the government".
But the February 20 Movement says the reforms do not go far enough, and last week around 10,000 people turned out at a peaceful rally in Casablanca.
The movement, named for the day of its first protest, was inspired by the pro-democracy groups that have sprung up across the Arab world.
For the government, Naciri said of the statement protesting against the counter-demonstrators: "It is unfair to describe them in such a negative way."
"We are so confident about the support we have from the majority of the population that these are just some dissonant voices trying to shake us."
The 47-year-old monarch, who took over the Arab world's longest-serving dynasty in 1999, currently holds virtually all power in the Muslim country. And as the Commander of the Faithful, he is also its top religious authority.
Under the new draft constitution to be put to the referendum, the king would remain head of state and the military, and would still appoint ambassadors and diplomats.
He would also retain the right to name top officials of unspecified "strategic" administrations.
The French-language weekly Tel Quel responded sceptically to the proposed reforms in its Saturday publication.
"King more than ever," it wrote. "Mohammed VI gives a bigger leeway to the prime minister... but he cedes nothing on his prerogatives."
The Islamist Justice and Charity group, a important social group in the country, has also rejected the proposals and said it would participate in Sunday's rally.

The promotion of Morocco and the natural sports targeted

The first edition of the Grand Raid Djebelya which will run from June 28th to July 28th, 2011, aims at contributing to the promotion of Morocco and natural sports.

The Djebelya Grand Raid is an endurance multi-sport event spread over 2,500 km through out Morocco. It is initiated by Mounir Essayegh, a natural sports passionate, and Arnaud Mollaret, horseback riding professor in Casablanca. So for a month, this competition which aims to lead the raiders from a sea to another, using only natural sports, will cross more than 13 provinces in 24 stages. Presented as a "race against oneself" which stresses on endurance, the objective of the raid is also to promote citizen tourism through natural sports. The programme includes events full of audacity and originality, which will respectively the spotlight different sports: kayaking, mountain bike, trek, walking, horseback riding, swimming, etc. The first stage of the raid will consist of a crossing of the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to Tarfaya in kayak. After a series of events organized, for the first part, in the South, followed by others in the North, for the second part of the raid, including the Strait crossing by swimming, the arrival is scheduled for July 28th at the beach of Cabo Negro, on the Mediterranean.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Behind-the-Scenes Look at Wis. Military in Morocco

Five soldiers from central Wisconsin are home after serving part of the summer in Africa. The 1158th Transportation Company hauled tanks and tractors for military training in Morocco.
Five soldiers from central Wisconsin are home after serving part of the summer in Africa. The 1158th Transportation Company hauled tanks and tractors for military training in Morocco.

"When we're doing stay-at-home missions we're on roads with American traffic versus the traffic here which is a lot different," said Sgt. Korin Saal from the base just a couple weeks ago. "They're crazy drivers here."

Saal us a national guard truck operator from Schofield who spent three weeks in the Moroccan Sahara Desert. She's not only responsible for driving her vehicle, but keeping it running.

"They're expensive, huge, have lots of parts, lots of pieces to them," said Saal. "I'm in charge of that truck. I'm in charge of making sure it gets from point a to point b in one piece safely."

Back home it's her family hoping she comes back in one piece and safely. After a deployment to Iraw in 2006, her parents say any time spent overseas is stressful.

"We're very nervous, we're thinking of her every day and wondering if she is ok," said Carol Saal. "We could send her texts so we would send her texts every day, every 5 minutes somebody was texting her to let her know that we were thinking of her."

"My mom just had heart surgery so it has kind of been crazy health-wise," said Korin. "I always try to get some contact home as much as possible just to see how they're doing."

"I was watching the History Channel and they were talking about the most dangerous roads in the world," said her father Irv Saal recallin Korin's time in Iraq. "Knowing that my daughter is driving from the Iraqui airport to Baghdad every day and that was listed as one of the most dangerous roads to drive on in the world, that didn't leave me any piece of mind."

This summer Korin Saal got back in time for Father's Day, and for a different type of labor.

"I went and had her get a 50 lbs. bag of dog food for him (Lucky the dog) and it's nice when I can say I'll send the Sergeant in to go get the dog food. She's got a way stronger back than me."

The national guard keeps her a weekend a month and a few weeks in the summer. It's a dirty job, but somebody looks forward to doing it.

"I love this," saud Korin. "Getting all dirty and greasy and gross and tom-boyish and then to come back here and get all prim and proper."

In all, about 900 military members will train in Morocco this summer.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Moroccan New Constitution analysed

I.  Next generation Constitution:

1.            Beyond the organization and distribution of powers (State institutions Constitution), there is a confirmation of a true citizens’ Charter (Constitution for the Citizens). It provides for a State organization system based on advanced regionalization (local and regional dimension in the Constitution) and for a culture of responsibility and accountability (good governance Constitution) ;
2.            Coherence and modernity both in terms of form (180 - instead of 108 previously - Articles well-articulated under 14 Chapters) and in terms of modern wording of the Preamble, which is an integral part of the Constitution and of constitutional provisions (gender-sensitive approach).
II. Democratic, inclusive and transparent approach (Constitution drawn up by Moroccans, for all Moroccans):
3.            Address of 9 March, 2011: democratic frame of reference set out by His Majesty for a sweeping constitutional revision
4.            Advisory Committee for the revision of the Constitution: Hearing sessions and reception of the memoranda of all stakeholders (political parties, trade unions, civil society groups and youth representatives) and preparation of an innovative draft Constitution;
5.            Follow-up and consultation through a political mechanism: effective participation of all political parties and trade unions in preparing the draft Constitution, from beginning to end.
III. Confirming the fundamental constituents of the diversified, open Moroccan identity:
6.            A sovereign Moslem State, committed to the ideals of openness, moderation, tolerance and dialogue to foster mutual understanding among all civilizations;
7.            A Nation whose unity is based on the fully endorsed diversity of its constituents: Arabic, Amazigh, Hassani, Sub-Saharan, African, Andalusian, Jewish and Mediterranean components ;

IV. A revisited linguistic pact grounded in pluralism and open attitude:

8.            The official status of the Arabic language has been enhanced; official status granted to the Amazigh language with a gradual integration process (schools and main public sectors) ;
9.            Active, harmonious linguistic and cultural policy geared towards the protection and promotion of national and official languages, and encouraging the learning of foreign languages which foster openness and permit access to the knowledge-based society ;
10.        Creation of a national Council for the promotion of languages and the Moroccan culture.
V. A full-fledged Charter of fundamental rights and freedoms rooted in the universal frame of reference for human rights:
11.    Primacy of the international conventions duly ratified by the Kingdom over domestic laws;
12.    Prohibiting all forms of discrimination on the basis of sex, colour, creed, culture, social or regional background, language or disability;
13.    Strengthening a full-fledged architecture of rights and freedoms worthy of advanced democratic societies: right to life ; right to personal security and that of property ; prohibition of torture and of all serious, systematic violations of human rights; presumption of innocence and right to fair trial ; freedom of thought, of opinion and of expression ; freedom of the press  and right to access information ; freedom of assembly, peaceful demonstration and association; freedom to join trade unions and political parties.
14.    Expanding economic, social and environmental rights (to which the State and all public authorities will be contributing): health; social protection; modern, accessible quality education; decent housing; a healthy environment and sustainable development.

VI. Enhancing gender equality through the confirmation of parity:

15.        Gender equality in civic, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights;
  1. Setting up of an Authority for the achievement of parity and the fight against all forms of discrimination.
16.        Use legislation to implement affirmative action measures for the benefit of women to encourage access to elected office;

VII. National sovereignty and supremacy of the Constitution:

18.        Sovereignty lies with the nation which exercises it by referendum and through its representatives;
19.        Election of the representatives of the people to elected national, local and regional institutions, by direct universal suffrage, through free, fair and transparent elections;
20.        Supremacy of the Constitution over all powers, without exception ; any litigant can challenge the constitutionality of a law (this is a daring, pioneering measure which makes it possible for the citizens to realize that the Constitution is of their own making);
VIII. Separation of powers under a constitutional, democratic, parliamentary and social monarchy:
21.        Citizen-based monarchy which upholds the nation’s basic policy objectives, fulfilling sovereignty and ultimate arbitration functions:
·         Deletion of all references to the sacredness of the person of the King, replacing it with the more modern notion of inviolability and the respect due to the King ;
·         Detailed, explicit differentiation between the powers of the King as Commander of the Faithful (in charge of the religious domain) and as Head of State, symbol of the nation’s unity and territorial integrity, who performs arbitration functions and who guarantees the nation’s democratic choices and safeguards the country’s best interests;
22.        A government emanating from an elected Parliament, and placed under the authority of a Head of Government who exercises full executive power :
·         Democratic procedure for the appointment of the Head of Government, who is appointed by the King from among the party which wins the general elections and is endorsed by the absolute majority of the House of Representatives, to which the Head of Government shall be answerable ;
·         A true Head of Government and not just a foremost minister ;  a true chief and leader of the cabinet, who will manage the administration, exercise real executive power and enjoy extensive prerogatives in terms of appointing senior civil servants ;
·         The Governing Council has become the forum for the definition and implementation of state policy ;
23.        A strong Parliament with enhanced powers, which will exercise the legislative power, enact laws, control the Government and assess public policies:
·         Two-chamber system which confirms the supremacy of the House of Representatives which can on its own challenge the Government; the second Chamber now has a reduced membership as well as a local and regional mission; trade unions and professional organizations are also represented in the second Chamber ;
·         Legal field increased from 30 subjects to 60, including 26 organic laws, particularly the guarantees relating to rights and freedoms, amnesty, the division into constituencies and all aspects of civil, economic and social life ;
·         Effective parliamentary control mechanisms for which the required quorums have been made more flexible: motion of censure, committees of inquiry, referral to the Constitutional Court, convening of a special session.
24.        Flexible balance between the legislative and the executive branches : the Government is now answerable only to the House of Representatives ; the latter can be dissolved not only by the King, by virtue of his prerogatives regarding arbitration and the guarantee of the proper functioning of institutions, but also by the Head of Government, through a decree;
IX. The Judiciary becomes an independent power, ensuring genuine protection of rights and guaranteeing compliance with the law:
25.        Basic, constitutionalised guarantees of independence for judges: Status of judges reinforced by an organic law, prohibition of interference in the work of judges, or any kind of pressure;
26.        The cornerstone of this branch is now the Supreme Council for Judicial Power: it is chaired by the King, who ensures, in particular, that the guarantees granted judges are   enforced; the new Constitution introduces three basic features
·         Vice-Presidency is now entrusted to the President of the Court of Cassation, instead of the Minister of Justice; there is also enhanced representation of women judges;
·         Membership open to well-known figures in the area of championing the independence of the Judiciary;
·         Beyond judges’ career management, the extended powers cover control and assessment of the judiciary and of the administration of justice;
27.        A true constitutional Court, which serves as the watchdog of constitutional supremacy:  half its members are now elected by both Houses of Parliament; its powers have been extended to checking the constitutionality of conventions; referral open to the public.
X. Enhanced constitutional status of the stakeholders involved in democratic life and in the citizen-based participatory democracy:
28.        Confirming the key role of political parties in democratic life ; contribute to the exercise of the right to vote, participate in the exercise of power, based on pluralism and democratic alternation in the exercise of political power;  functioning methods that are consistent with democratic principles, no dissolution or suspension without a court ruling.
29.        Recognition of a genuine status for the parliamentary opposition: in addition to the relaxed provisions mentioned under item 8, chairmanship, of right, of the legislation commission, equitable access to state media, entitlement to public funding, actual participation in the control of Government and in parliamentary committees of inquiry;
30.        Strengthening the role of trade unions as levers of social democracy, and as political players by maintaining their presence in the second Chamber;
31.        Recognizing the status and role of civil society and NGOs as stakeholders in participatory democracy, at national, local and community levels ;
32.        Confirming the status and role of the media in promoting democracy as well as citizens’ rights and freedoms:
·         Guaranteeing press freedom and the right to information;
·         Democratic regulatory measures for, and organization of, the press and audiovisual communication sectors, including audio-visual means (the HACA enshrined in the Constitution).
33.        Creating new forums for participatory democracy: involving education, the family and children, youth and civic associations.
 XI. Regional and local democracy, and advanced regionalisation:
34.        Enshrining advanced regionalisation in the Constitution : as well as redistributing the powers between constitutional institutions, the new Constitution paves the way for a country with united regions, based on a democratic reorganization of powers between the State and the regions;
35.        Confirmation of the basic principles underlying the Moroccan regionalization system:
·         National, local and regional unity, balance, solidarity and democratic practices;
·         Election of regional councils by direct suffrage, right of petition;
·         Principles of self-management and subsidiarity ;
·         Transferring the executive power of these councils to their presidents;
·         The regional Council will serve as a college for election to the House of Councillors.
36.        Constitutional basis for a new local and regional setup in the Kingdom, conducive to :
·         Substantial devolution of powers from the central authority to the regions;
·         Several forms of partnership and contractual relationships between the State and the regions, and between local governments;
·         Development and devolution of central powers.
37.        Creation of a regional equalization fund and of a fund for the social overhauling of regions.
XII. Fundamental principles in the area of good governance, integrity in public institutions and economic rule of law:
38.        Relationship between office-holding, public office and accountability;
39.        Constitutionalising the principle of the balance of public finances;
40.        Confirming the basic principles of social market economy and economic rule of law:
·         The right to property, free enterprise and free competition
·         The prohibition of conflicts of interest, of insider trading and of practices that are contrary to the principles of free and fair competition in economic relations;
41.        Strong measures to promote transparency and the fight against corruption: Sanctioning all forms of wrongdoing in the management of public funds, corruption and influence peddling.
42.        Strict prohibition of party-switching by parliamentarians, both with respect to parties and parliamentary groups (this will contribute to the rehabilitation of politics and give meaning to voting); 
43.        Restricting the benefit from immunity (limited to the expression of opinion and to voting  in Parliament ; equality of all before the law as a result of cancelling the High Court, previously meant as a court for ministers);
44.        Good governance in the area of security: Setting up a Supreme Strategic Security Council as a consultative institution which deals with the country’s internal and external security strategies, as well as with the management of crisis situations; it also institutionalizes standards for good security governance.
45.        Enshrining in the Constitution the Competition Council and the national authority for integrity and for the prevention and fight against corruption,  in addition to other independent institutions for the protection and promotion of human rights, good governance and regulation, especially an independent council for human rights and the Al Wasseet (Ombudsman) institution.

Expedition Impossible in Morocco

The First 14 Minutes Of ABC's 'Expedition Impossible

13 three-person teams find themselves racing across vast deserts, over snow-capped mountains and through raging rivers in the beautifully exotic, fabled Kingdom of Morocco. After 10 stunning legs of competition filled with drama, laughs and memorable characters, one team will cross the finish line to claim victory. Each winning team member gets $50,000 (that's $150,000 total for the team) as well a new Ford Explorer.

Expedition Impossible comes from Executive Producer Mark Burnett, whose hits include Shark Tank, Survivor and The Apprentice, just to name a few. Lisa Hennessy also serves as Executive Producer for the series. The show promises to have lots of human drama to accompany all the high adventure.

Boycott reform vote, says Morocco union

One of Morocco’s biggest trade unions urged its members yesterday to boycott voting in a July 1 referendum for a reformed constitution led by King Mohamed, adding weight to a youth-led movement’s opposition to the plan.
After some of the biggest protests in decades—inspired in part by the “Arab Spring” uprisings—the monarch announced on Friday he would devolve some of his powers to parliament and the government and put the reforms to a referendum on July 1.
“The proposed constitution reinforces what has always been applied in the past and does not deliver on what has been promised,” Noubir Amaoui, who heads the Democratic Labour Confederation (CDT), said.
The CDT becomes the biggest organisation to announce its intention to boycott the referendum after three small left-wing parties and the youth-led February 20 Movement, which was inspired by revolts in Egypt and Tunisia to demand the establishment of a parliamentary monarchy.
Although exact membership figures are hard to come by, in 2009 the CDT won most seats among trade unions at elections of representatives of public administration employees and also has a large following in the banking sector.
Under the changes, the king would retain his hold on security, the army and religion. That disappointed some opponents who had wanted to see the monarch hand over all his executive powers to elected officials.
“What we want is broad democracy and full transparency without the exclusion of anyone. Furthermore, the final copy (of the reformed constitution draft) did not correspond to the copy that was given to us: Some articles were changed without consulting us,” added Amaoui.
Amaoui also said with the referendum date set for July 1, the authorities “have not allowed enough time for Moroccans to understand what the new constitution is all about. They are using the same old tactic of surprise ... Some people don’t seem to understand the changes happening around us.”
After facing the biggest anti-establishment protests in decades, King Mohamed in March ordered a hand-picked committee to discuss with political parties, trade unions and non-governmental organisations a constitutional reform.