Monday, January 04, 2010

Moroccan News Briefs

HM King flags changes

More than two years after first floating the idea, King Mohammed VI of Morocco has announced plans for a major shake-up of the way Morocco is governed.

HM the King has named a 22-member Advisory Committee on Regionalisation in a bid to devolve power away from Rabat but also to reaffirm Morocco’s claims to Western Sahara.

The committee has been given six months to come up with a plan “specific to Morocco’s needs rather than an imitation of foreign models”.

The result, he said, would lead to the renovation and modernisation of the state.

As for Western Sahara, the King said the region must not be allowed to stagnate but should be among the first to benefit from the reform.

Morocco regained the mainly desert, phosphate-rich former Spanish colony in 1975.

However, the Algerian-backed Polisario Front has been fighting for independence for decades.

Several United Nations initiatives to resolve the dispute have all failed.

The Committee, whose chairmanship was entrusted to Omar Azzimane, Morocco's ambassador to Madrid, is composed of 21 members including three women.

Four killed, 48 injured in road accident in Western Morocco

Four people died and 48 others were injured in an accident which took place on Monday near the city of Kenitra (40 km north of Rabat), local authorities said.
The accident occurred when a bus overturned near Oulad Boucheib locality on the Kenitra-Tangiers highway. A psychological support unit was mobilized to assist the victims who were admitted to the nearest hospital, the same source added.

Five Moroccans die in apartment blaze in south of France

Five Moroccans of the same family were killed Friday morning in an apartment fire at a social housing building in Nîmes (South of France), and three others are in a serious condition. The father of the family, 55, his mother, 74, and his three children (aged 15, 11, and 26) died in the blaze, whose circumstances remain unclear.

The deceased's wife and two other children, 4 and 21, were hospitalized in very serious condition.
Ten other people in the building were slightly injured and three others are in very serious condition, according to rescue services. An investigation was opened to determine the circumstances of this tragedy.


Morocco’s economy achieved a growth rate of 5.6% in the third quarter of 2009, against 5.7% in the same period a year earlier, the High Planning Commissioner (HCP) reported.

According to figures published by the HCP, this growth is ascribed to the increase posted in both the agricultural value added volume ( 26 %) and the non-agricultural GDP ( 2.6%).

The growth rate of the mining and energy sectors fell short of that registered a year earlier (-5.9% against 0.3%), while processing industries posted a limited growth (0.4% against 2.6%).
Services increased by 4% compared to 5.3%, it said, adding that the GDP rose by 4.4% in comparison with the same period of 2008.

Danish Cartoonist Targeted

It is a problem that just refuses to go away for Kurt Westergaard, who must be asking himself just how long will people maintain their rage at the controversial cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that sparked a storm of Muslim protest five years ago. Danish police have shot and wounded a man at the home of Kurt's home and he is now in protective custody.

Danish media reported last night that Westergaard, 74, was at home near the city of Aarhus with his wife and grandchild when a 27-year-old Somalian man armed with a knife and axe tried to break in.

Chief superintendant Morten Jensen, from East Jutland police, said: "At 10pm a personal alarm was received from Mr Westergaard's house."

Officers found a man "armed with an axe and a knife in either hand," he said. "He broke a window of Mr Westergaard's house. He tried to attack one officer with an axe and he was shot in his right leg and his left arm." He said the man was not seriously injured and was now in custody.

In 2005 the Jyllands-Posten newspaper published a caricature by Westergaard depicting Muhammad wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a fuse.

Islamic tradition says no image of the prophet should be produced or shown.

Danish embassies were attacked including the one in Damascus which was burned down in 2006 and death threats against Westergaard forced him into hiding.

In March 2008 Denmark's three main newspapers reprinted the cartoon after the arrest of three men for plotting to murder the artist.The three – a Dane of Moroccan origin and two Tunisians – were picked up in a dawn raid near Aarhus following a long surveillance operation by the country's intelligence services, the PET.

The Dane was eventually released without charge and one of the two Tunisians was deported. The other was sent to live in an asylum centre north of Copenhagen.

The Jyllands-Posten also carried a statement from the cartoonist revealing how he had feared for his life but then "turned fear into anger and indignation".

"It has made me angry that a perfectly normal everyday activity, which I used to do by the thousand, was abused to set off such madness," the statement added.

In today's Jyllands-Posten, Westergaard described the incident: "He threatened to kill me. I ran out to the bathroom where our security room is. I was worried for my grandchild. I was afraid.

"I knew that I could not match him. So I alerted the police. It was scary. It was really close. But we did it. It was good."

Westergaard was moved to a safe place last night but was unable to say what the attempted attack would mean for his future.

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