Saturday, February 26, 2011

Morocco: the King acts

On Monday 21 February, following the popular protests across the country, "Morocco's King Mohammed VI inaugurated a long-awaited advisory body to the government. The creation of the Social and Economic Council (CES) is enshrined in the constitution but was delayed for years", writes Sarah Touahri for Magharebia.

"We intend it to be a new, open space, capable of enhancing what the state can offer institutions in terms of structures and bodies which will foster constructive dialogue, responsible expression and a positive reaction to the aspirations of various social categories across different generations," the king said at the opening ceremony in Casablanca.

The sovereign rejected calls for replacing the Chamber of Councillors with the CES or merging the two bodies.

"We are not inclined to allow this council to become some kind of third chamber," he said.

The new body comprises 99 members, including representatives of charities and union groups, as well as scientific experts and intellectuals. It aims to draw up a new social charter, based on major contractual partnerships.

The CES holds consultative powers and is tasked with proposing solutions to major socio-economic problems, such as the needs of the labour market.

"It is intended to serve as a permanent space for social dialogue and the best place for thinking across different fields of economic, social and environmental activity," Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi said in a press statement. "Before bringing draft bills before parliament, the government will seek the views of the council and take them into account."

Former Interior Minister Chakib Benmoussa was appointed as the council chairman. The CES activities will make it possible to respond to the aspirations of the people, particularly young people, in terms of competitiveness, work, equal opportunities, governance and civil society, he said.

Through its judgments and proposals, the council will support the reforms upon which Morocco has embarked, Benmoussa pledged.

"The representation of business leaders, employees and civil society within the council is a guarantee of the effectiveness of its actions in the interest of everyone and the promotion of balanced economic development," said Moroccan Business Confederation chief and council member Mohamed Horani.

Another CES member, Abdelmaksoud Rachdi, commented that the body will open up new areas for consideration of the major economic and social directions taken by the country.

People have been looking forward to the creation of the council, but that it should not become just one more institution with no real powers, according to sociologist Choubali Jamal.

Despite its purely consultative powers, the CES can play an important role if its conclusions are taken into account by the legislative and executive powers, he added.

Moroccans, however, remain sceptical and wait for tangible action."

The View from Fez came across several comments about the new council:
"We'd have liked this council to have decision-making powers so that it could do something," a student told Magharebia. The Huffington Post also carried a reader's comment calling the new council "a toothless talk-shop mimicked on its French name-sake. A total waste of time and money".

The setting up of this council was enshrined in the constitution in 1996. In October 1998, the King announced that he wanted to "press ahead with comprehensive institutional reform", but the Council has only been set up this week.


Mustapha Tarab, left

Several Moroccan websites are reporting an imminent cabinet shuffle in Morocco. According to a reliable online newspaper, King Mohammed VI will announce the selection of Mustapha Tarab as a new Prime Minister to replace Mr. Abbas El-Fassi. The same source indicated that the Moroccan monarch will replace several key ministers with some new faces while some former cabinet members will be brought back.

This would also be in line with demands made by protesters last weekend; Abbas El-Fassi has not been a popular figure.

Mr. Tarrab, who is currently the CEO of the important Phosphates Office (OCP), is a well respected economist who worked at the World Bank.


Piggy said...

Long overdue. I wonder why now they are taking action? Think about it!

Ouali said...

can you give update news on this. Have the new cabinet happened and who are the new minister in government.
thank you very much

Wiggy said...

Helen, it'd would be great if we could get update on this story, can you let us know what's happened with the proposed cabinet reshuffle.