Ramid veut reformer la Justice… mais “c’est au roi de prendre la décision”

Mustapha Ramid est probablement le plus en vue des ministres du parti islamiste PJD, depuis qu’il a été nommé à la tête d’un des ministères clés du gouvernement marocain, celui de la Justice (et des libertés publiques, faut-il le préciser ?). Il s’est distingué dans le passé par son franc parler et ses positions clairement opposées aux pratiques du Makhzen, le pouvoir marocain. Dans une interview qu’il a accordée mardi à Reuters, le nouveau ministre déclare vouloir mettre fin aux pratiques du passé, notamment en ce qui concerne le code de la presse et le cas des nombreux prisonniers d’opinion, pour lesquels il laisse entendre qu’il demandera la grâce royale :

“Nous avons notre vision des choses mais nous avons également des contraintes institutionnelles. Le gouvernement ne peut pas intervenir dans la justice. C’est une institution indépendante.

“Il y a cependant une voie unique, qui est celle du pardon royal. Nous y travaillerons donc et nous déploierons nos efforts pour essayer de régler ce problème. En fin de compte, ce n’est pas à nous de décider mais c’est au roi de prendre la décision. Nous essaierons de faire en sorte que cette décision soit basée sur des informations et des propositions que nous présenterons (au roi).” Continue reading

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Legislatives marocaines : Je boycotte… et voici mes raisons

Je voudrais m’adresser a mes compatriotes honnêtes et bien intentionnés qui veulent aller voter aux législatives vendredi et ceux qui hésitent encore à prendre la décision de sortir voter le 25. Je parle à ceux qui pensent, en leur âme et conscience, qu’en allant voter ils pourront aider au changement en apportant du sang neuf aux institutions, en espérant ainsi pousser la classe politique actuelle, majoritairement corrompue et inféodée au Makhzen, en dehors du système.

J’aimerais partager avec eux mon point de vue et leur expliquer pourquoi je suis convaincu que le boycott et le meilleur choix à faire. Avant qu’ils ne s’énervent et qu’ils ne cliquent sur la petite croix, je leur demanderais de me donner une petite chance en lisant ce qui suit.

Je suis intimement convaincu que les personnes bien intentionnées qu’elles sont espèrent voir une transition démocratique au Maroc sans faire courir au pays les risques de crises internes ou de conflits que d’autres pays de la région connaissent.

Mais dans les conditions politiques actuelles dans lesquels se retrouve le Maroc, voter consisterait à essayer de traiter un cancer à coup de tablettes de paracetamol.

Je les invite maintenant à laisser libre cours à leur imagination. Essayons ensemble de dessiner les trajectoires hypothétiques, mais réalistes de ce processus en cours. Qu’arrivera t-il si 1) le taux de participation est élevé, et si 2) à l’opposé, le taux d’abstention est plus conséquent. Continue reading

Fin de cycle : quel avenir pour le mouvement du 20 février ? #Feb20 #Maroc

Les cinq mois qui se sont écoulés ont été exceptionnels de tout point de vue pour le Maroc. Faute d’avoir réussi à réaliser les objectifs qu’il s’était fixé au début de sa mobilisation, le mouvement démocrate du 20 février a réussit là ou les partis politiques ont échoué lamentablement : réveiller les consciences et faire en sorte que la société marocaine renoue enfin avec la politique et le débat public. Le mouvement a réussi à révéler au grand jour la nature profonde de cette société, ses orientations politiques et ses convictions.

Il y a eu probablement des erreurs commises pendant cette période de la part du mouvement démocrate. On ne peut cependant pas lui reprocher son manque d’expérience et sa spontanéité face à un appareil d’Etat redoutable, riche d’une longue histoire de répression et d’une expertise d’ingénierie électorale sans égal. Mais alors que nous arrivons a ce qu’il convient d’appeler une fin de cycle, certains enseignements s’imposent.

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Morocco: Pro-Democracy Movement Calls for Boycott

The February 20 movement is calling for the boycott on the upcoming referendum on a Constitutional amendment introduced by the king on his June 17 speech. The movement released this video today outlining the main reasons behind their call.

For English subtitles, click on CC.

Ahmed Benchemsi: The Anatomy of the Moroccan Dictatorship (#feb20)

Ahmed Benchemsi is a celebrated Moroccan journalist, former editor, publisher and founder of popular weekly magazines TelQuel and–the now-disappeared–Nichane (Straight Forward). Mr. Benchemsi has now moved to the US where he works as a researcher at Stanford University. Here he speaks at the Oslo Freedom Forum about what he calls “the subtleties” of both the Moroccan dictatorship and that of the pro-democracy youth movement. He dissects, then entertainingly demystifies some of the major arguments the Moroccan regime usually uses to sell its image abroad as an “Arab exception.” A must watch presentation!

Showdown in Morocco: People Against the Makhzen

This text was originally published on Foreign Policy.

The makhzen refers to an ancient institution in Morocco — the extended power apparatus close to the Moroccan monarchy, made up of a network of power and privilege. It allows the King to act as an absolute monarch and the de facto head of the executive. Beneath the give and take of everyday politics, the makhzen has always been the ultimate guarantor of the status quo. For three months, the pro-democracy youth movement, known as “February 20,” has been advocating against that status quo. Protests have not been targeting the monarchy directly, but instead have been urging for reform that would yield a system in which the King reigns but does not rule.

What started as a small group on Facebook earlier this year, has since grown into a nationwide movement made up of a loose coalition of leftists, liberals and members of the conservative Islamist right. Inspired by the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings and powered by new media, the movement convinced hundreds of thousands to take to the streets. The demonstrations held week in, week out, were remarkably peaceful. In response, King Mohammed VI promised a package of constitutional reforms to be submitted to a referendum in June. But as protesters, unconvinced by the King’s promise, vow to keep up pressure on the regime, authorities seem increasingly impatient and determined to break up protests violently, paving the way toward escalation and confrontation with the street. The middle class is joining the mass of demonstrators, moving the protests beyond the core of mobilized youth. Their target is the makhzen — which has become a code word for the monarchy’s abuses of power and monopoly over large sectors of the economy.

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#Guantemara: Heavy-handed Response to Peaceful Demonstration in Morocco

The Moroccan pro-democracy movement known as February 20 has called for the organization of a picnic today near what activists say is a secret detention center located in Temara, in the outskirts of the capital Rabat.

The peaceful gathering was violently broken up by Moroccan anti-riot police which used truncheons to disperse the crowd.

Activists were then chased in the streets of Hay Riad, a neighborhood of the capital Rabat.

Many witnesses I spoke to on the phone expressed disbelief at the disproportionate police deployment and the violent, unwarranted, unprovoked repression of pro-democracy activists, leaving hundreds wounded, some seriously beaten in the head and nose.

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Western Sahara: My Dispassionate Viewpoint

Bernard Lugan, the French historian who appears in the video I posted on my last post is a controversial figure as commenters have been pointing out . I must admit I should have known better and checked the credentials. But regardless of what this guy might have been accused of and his rather disconcerting political discourse, I still would have published the video [Fr] because I think the content is pretty kosher.

I’ve been hearing people jangling around this issue for years. Talk over the violent events that led to a number of deaths and injuries at Gadaym Izik, a protest camp near Laayoune, southern Morocco (or Western Sahara, depending on which side you’re on) has often been supercilious or overly patriotic. At least from the Moroccan side. Not the kind of arguments I’m prepared to take anymore. But I was happy to have some reasonable and truly dispassionate discussions, off and online on some aspects of this question over the past few days.

Let me just set the record straight: I think these people who camped at Gadaym Izik had the right to assemble and protest their poor living conditions. I regret the mismanagement of the issue by the Moroccan authorities who did almost everything one could think of to make the situation worsen, and transform a protest that was economic in nature into a highly volatile political crisis with the subsequent media disaster we’ve been witnessing in the last 72 hours or so.

Both sides of the conflict claim the right to be sovereign over the territory. Sovereignty is a controversial notion. It does however matter in this case. And if anyone is to claim sovereignty over a territory, I guess there must be some consistent historical and cultural basis to back that claim, whatever some of my “internationalist” friends might think.

I’m not pretending to have answers here, and I certainly have more questions than I have answers but I, for one, thought it would be interesting to share some of those.

History matters, and from that point of view, the kind of relations that existed between the Makhzen (the Moroccan state) and its subjects, whether in the north or the south of the country, is an interesting one to look at. It consisted mainly, but not solely, on tax collection and crude force, hence the dreadful reputation the Makhzen has acquired across the ages. This has been at the core of the resentment on the part of dissident tribes throughout Moroccan history. They regularly went into dissidence, refusing the mafia-like (to borrow a commenter’s word) imposition they were subjected to, but they maintained some kind of deference to the central/spiritual authority of the Sultans. I believe the same dynamics prevailed in Western Sahara until Spain and the newly created Algeria started poking their nose into it. The fact Algeria and Mauritania didn’t exist before France created them is, I believe, at the core of the problem. This conflict, along with the endless border disputes, have been deliberately planted by former colonial powers so as to maintain a constant dependency. Divide et impera. Beyond the revolving cycles of dissidence (Siba) versus submission there was a consistent trade and cultural network between Morocco and Western Sahara that underpinned the eventual emergence of a nation sate, centuries before the same processes even started in the West. As far as I know, cessation was not a common practice amongst these tribes. Now, whether that constitutes a solid ground for a claim of sovereignty on the part of Morocco is a matter for debate, but I believe Morocco’s case is quite consistent from that standpoint.

I support a people’s right to self determination and I would subscribe to any option the people in question might choose, whether autonomy, integration or outright independence. But that said, there are some preliminary questions one ought to ask before accepting such a process as legitimate and not as an orchestrated imposture on the part of meddling regional powers.

A call for independence must at least be based on a coherent argument. There is, however, a fundamental flaw in Polisario’s stance. It is something that makes the separatist plea highly suspicious to me. If we’re going to consider the Sahara and its people, why for example should we restrict that exercise to the relatively minuscule western part of the huge Saharan territory? The nomadic Saharawi population is a unique blend of Arabs and indigenous Berber tribes, that spans a territory that includes necessarily the whole of Mauritania and very large chunks of the Algerian, Libyan segments of the Sahara desert. The separatists would have been more convincing had they stopped playing the puppet role for regional powers’ obvious ambitions.

I’ve also been arguing (but was unfortunately misunderstood) that Morocco is not Sudan (and I mean no disrespect for Sudan here), in the sense that Morocco has, over its 12 century-old history, acquired a political and geographical coherence and ethnic cohesion that would make the separation way more lethal than say in Southern Sudan or in Kosovo.

Establishing a liberal, genuine democracy in Morocco is I believe the best way out of this. A decentralized authority, a parliamentary monarchy and a federal state is a matter of urgency, for the sake of the Moroccan people, Saharawis included, and for the survival of the monarchy itself.

The referendum idea, in the context of the conflict over Western Sahara, is I believe passé, because the separation would be a disaster, not only for Morocco, but also for the region. Otherwise we would be contemplating the creation of yet another Frankenstein republic, administered from Algiers, under the guardianship of Spain. So much for self determination.