Monday, August 29, 2011

Morocco In the News: Monday, August 29th

HM the King inaugurates in Tetouan HRH Princess Lalla Malika center for training health volunteers and professionals
Tetouan - HM King Mohammed VI, accompanied by HRH Princess Lalla Malika inaugurated, on Friday in Tetouan, HRH Princess Lalla Malika center for training health volunteers and professionals, to be built for a total cost of 9.1 million dirhams.
-    HRH Princess Lalla Malika Center is an embodiment of the Moroccan Red Crescent policy aiming to reinforce health training institutions .
-    The center will provide training to 350 students.

After unveiling the commemorative plaque and cutting the symbolic ribbon, the Sovereign toured the different facilities of the new Center which is designed to provide training in first aid, nursing and sanitary techniques.

The Center, to be achieved as part of the Moroccan Red Crescent policy to reinforce health training institutions, will substitute the existing nursing training school at the Moroccan Red Crescent hospital in Tetouan.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Full text of HM the King’s speech on occasion of the 58th anniversary of the Revolution of the King and the people

Marrakech, Aug 20 - HM King Mohammed VI delivered, on Saturday, a speech to the Nation on the occasion of the 58thanniversary of the Revolution of the King and the People.
Here follows the full text of the Royal speech;

Praise be to God

May peace and blessings be upon the Prophet, His Kith and Kin.
Dear Citizens,

Our celebration, today, of the fifty-eighth anniversary of the Revolution of the King and the People is characterized by your endorsement of an advanced Constitution, which opens up promising democratic prospects for completing the construction of a modern state based on institutions and the rule of law. 

The new Constitution lays the groundwork for extensive regionalization, and this marks a turning point in our history. It seeks to achieve the modernization and rationalization of state institutions through the adoption of fundamental reforms based on good local governance. These reforms are meant to boost integrated development, enhance social justice and ensure a dignified life for all Moroccans.  Our greatest asset, in this respect, is the creativity and dynamism of our youth, whom we are celebrating today. Indeed, our young people are fully qualified to hold aloft the torch of the epic event of 20 August, as part of a distinctive, purely Moroccan approach in which they can fully rise to the challenges faced, in keeping with the unshakable relationship between the people and the nation’s First Servant, as well as the enduring spirit of the Revolution of the King and the People. 

I consider the optimal implementation of the new Constitution to be the gateway to political action aimed at promoting development and shoring up confidence as well as collective commitment to the rule of law. It is the proper way to stimulate the economy and to foster productive investment which can help our citizens - particularly deprived segments of our population - enjoy a free, dignified life.  This is the greatest challenge of all. We must all strive doubly hard to rise to that challenge through institutions that serve as the driving force for democracy and development.

At the current political juncture, the main concern should not be to simply view the upcoming elections as a legitimate opportunity to win the most seats; the real challenge is to achieve a qualitative leap and turn elections into a national campaign for the choice of the best programs and the most competent elites. The aim is to ensure the actual implementation of the Constitution gets off to a good start, and to generate strong momentum as our country stands on the verge of a crucial political transition.

Increasing trust and confidence in the forthcoming elections does not end with the consensus on good preparatory measures. In fact, all political actors ought to commit to a clear vision in order to enhance the credibility of elections and avoid issuing preconceived judgements on results even before elections are held, and casting doubt on the integrity of elections for narrow political considerations, which only serve the enemies of democracy and the proponents of skepticism and nihilism.  This means the nation’s stakeholders - the government, parliament, political parties, the citizens, civil society and the media - face a real test. They have a historic responsibility to shoulder; they have to make the nation’s best interests prevail over all other considerations.

In this regard, the government departments and the judicial authorities concerned with organizing the elections must strictly comply with the law, apply the mechanisms for political and parliamentary integrity, provide for the conditions of free electoral competition, deal with political parties on an equal footing and observe a policy of positive neutrality.

They must firmly address all violations, combat the illicit use of money and votebuying which spoil elections, and fight against the abuse of power as well as the devious use of religion and the nation’s sacred values for electoral purposes.  Needless to say, party activism and electoral campaigns require fair, transparent financing, which is determined by the law; and it is the law which punishes any breach of those rules and regulations.

Whatever the quality of the legislative framework or the resolve of the government departments, the role given to political parties by the new Constitution is crucial in terms of ensuring electoral integrity and preserving the sanctity of institutions.  Political parties are therefore expected to compete in developing creative, realistic election platforms which meet our citizens’ real concerns They are also called upon to recommend qualified candidates who are able to live up to legislative and executive responsibility, whether they are in the Government or in the Opposition.

Parties should also encourage the participation of women and young people in order to have competent elites and to inject new blood into political life and constitutional institutions. Given the extensive powers afforded to local councils by the local democracy approach, I think political life in our country - in terms of both philosophy and practice - is about to witness a fundamental change which involves more than just government posts and seats in parliament.

Indeed, vast prospects will be opened up through the election of thousands of regional, provincial and local councilors. Regional, provincial and local councils are basic institutions for forming elites who will run public affairs.  To highlight the noble essence of political commitment, political stakeholders have to view the electoral mandate as more than just a concern for seats on central, local or regional councils, given the possibility they offer of being close to the citizens’ legitimate concerns and basic needs.

To voters who, by voting freely, help express the will of the people, I want to say this: By taking part in the ballot, you are doing more than merely exercising a personal right. You are delegating, to whomever you vote for, the power to manage public affairs on your behalf. This makes it incumbent upon you to realize the particular importance of voting, a right which should not be subjected to any kind of manipulation. You should display a sense of national duty as you choose realistic programs and vote for honest, qualified candidates. To candidates, I want to say this: Now is the time to do away with the shameful electoral practices which, in the past, weakened the credibility of elected councils and undermined the noble essence of political action.

Whoever intends to stand for the upcoming elections must bear in mind that the Constitution establishes a clear link between the exercise of power and accountability.  Given the status conferred by the Constitution on civil society and the media in promoting the values of responsible citizenship, these institutions are called upon to effectively play their role with respect to the legal, independent and impartial observation of elections.

Dear Citizens,

It is a fact that the modernization and democratization of state institutions hinges on the transfer of central government powers allowed by the new Constitution, in keeping with the principle of separation of powers. However, to achieve this goal, it is necessary to establish an advanced regionalization system in which certain central government powers are devolved to regions, in accordance with principles of local democracy and good governance. This should make it possible to ensure balanced, integrated solidarity-based regional development, which puts an end to the colonial motto of ‘useful and useless’ Morocco and to interregional inequalities.

To lay the structural groundwork for advanced regionalization - a major project which I view as a new revolution of the King and the people - priority should be given to the preparation of the organic law relating to it, given that it also concerns regional council elections as well as other regulatory measures needed to set up the second House.

Furthermore, the social rehabilitation fund and the inter-regional solidarity fund should quickly become operational in order to support the programs of the National Initiative for Human Development aimed at combating poverty, marginalization and social exclusion through income-generating activities and job opportunities, especially for our youth.

Our young people, who are discerning and responsible, are now at the very heart of a constitutional and political modernization project. The rights and duties stipulated by the Constitution, and the institutions of responsible citizenship it provides for, make it possible to increase our young people’s involvement in democratic reforms and development projects.

Just as I care deeply for our citizens at home, I want to pay tribute to Moroccans who live abroad for their strong attachment to their homeland, their keenness to nurture family bonds with their relatives here, and their great enthusiasm and eagerness to contribute to developing their country and defending its just causes.  I should like to say how keen I am to ensure the optimal implementation of the provisions of the new Constitution, which stipulates, for the first time, that Moroccans living abroad are to enjoy the full rights of citizenship. The Constitution also calls for safeguarding their interests in their countries of residence, and for ensuring the widest possible participation of the Moroccan expatriate community in our national institutions and in the management of public affairs.

Dear Citizens,

The commemoration of the Revolution of the King and the People, which this year coincides with the last ten days of the holy month of Ramadan - a period characterized by a sense of special spiritual fulfillment - vividly reminds us of the heroes of the struggle for freedom, independence and unity led by my grandfather, His Majesty King Mohammed V, and by my father, His Majesty King Hassan II. May they rest in peace.

I hereby reaffirm the mutual pledge between you and me to continue holding aloft the torch of the ever dynamic Revolution of the King and the People. The commemoration of Youth Day, which is a source of inspiration for us, reminds us of the values of solidarity, sacrifice, steadfastness and commitment to unrelenting action in order to enhance our country’s standing in a sensitive regional and international environment. Such values make it possible for us to showcase our sound, democratic model to achieve development in a spirit of unity, solidarity, confidence, hope and stability.

Wassalamu alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh.

Friday, August 19, 2011

North-west Africa’s minority

Springtime for them too?

The Berbers join the Arab revolt

IN MOROCCO their language has been made official. In Algeria they lead protests against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s regime. In Tunisia they are rediscovering a long-suppressed identity. In Libya they man the rebels’ western front in the mountains south of the capital still held by Muammar Qaddafi. Even in Egypt’s oasis of Siwa, near Libya’s border, Berbers are finding that the revolution has given them a chance to revive their cultural rights.
“There is a Berber renaissance taking place across north Africa,” enthuses Mounir Kejji, a Moroccan Berber campaigner. In his country a new constitution, endorsed in a referendum on July 1st, officially recognises the Berber language for the first time, though parliament will decide what this means in practice; Arab nationalists and many Islamists have long demanded that Arabic be the sole language of administration and state education.
The authoritarian Arab nationalist regimes that dominated the region used to accuse the Berbers of threatening national cohesion. Now, shaken and in some cases overthrown, they have seen Berber activism take on a new lease of life. Even where they are a minority of only a few thousand, as in Egypt and Tunisia, Berbers have been able for the first time to form community associations.
Libya’s rebellion is fiercest in the Nafusa Mountains, a Berber heartland long neglected by the government. Colonel Qaddafi has refused to acknowledge Berber culture for most of his reign, describing it as “colonialism’s poison” intended to divide the country. Only in 2006, apparently after his son Seif al-Islam intervened, did he lift a ban on the use of Berber names.
Berbers make up about 5% of Libya’s 6m-7m people, though some activists put the figure higher. In recent weeks they have set up a radio station. The rebel-controlled Libya TV, based in Qatar, now broadcasts in Tamazight, the Berber tongue, for two hours a day. In June, says Mr Kejji, a delegation of Libyan Berbers affiliated to the rebels’ Transitional National Council put a linguistic query to their Moroccan counterparts: how should they write “army”and “national security” in Tamazight, so that Libyan uniforms could have a badge in their own language alongside Arabic?
A written script for the various Berber dialects was created only in the 20th century. Algeria’s Kabyles, a Berber people said to number 4m, have usually preferred the Latin alphabet, whereas a Tuareg alphabet, called Tifinagh, is now officially used in Morocco and has been adopted by Libyan Berbers who were banned from using it under the colonel. (The Tuareg are nomadic Berber pastoralists living mainly in southern Algeria, eastern Mali and western Niger.)
The Berber revival has rekindled enthusiasm for pan-Berber solidarity. “There’s an awareness among Berbers across north Africa of that element of their identity which they share,” says Hugh Roberts, an expert on the Maghreb. But each country in the region, he says, has its own particularities. The dream of creating a community of 20m-plus people (estimates of the total vary widely), stretching from Egypt’s western desert to the Atlantic, would be stymied by the multiplicity of Berber dialects and by the variety of political circumstances. “A single Berber identity exists only virtually—on the internet and among diaspora intellectuals,” says Mr Roberts.

Morocco In the News: Summer Edition

by Linda Thrasybule
HIV epidemics are emerging among men who have sex with men in the Middle East and North Africa, researchers say. It's a region where HIV/AIDS isn't well understood, or studied.
More than 5 percent of men who have sex with men are infected by HIV in countries including Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia, according to a recent study in PLoS Medicine. In one group of men in Pakistan, the rate of infection was about 28 percent. (For reference, in 2008, rates of HIV infection among men who have sex with men in the U.S. ranged from 16 percent among white men up to 28 percent of black men, according to the CDC.)
Risky behavior, low condom use, injectable drug use and male sex workers are some of the factors that could cause HIV rates to rise in the region, the researchers say. On average, the men who have sex with men group had between four and 14 sexual partners within the past six months, with consistent condom use falling below 25 percent.
Lack of HIV surveillance and low access to treatment and prevention are a concern for researchers, who believe the window of opportunity to prevent the epidemic from spreading across the region is growing smaller.