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Morocco News meets the World

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    King Mohammed VI deliver a speech on the occasion of the Throne Day

    Fez- King Mohammed VI of Morocco started on Thursday a historic visit to the Saharan provinces. Today, the Moroccan monarch attended the Friday prayer at the Asslam mosque in the city of Dakhla, the region’s second largest city after Laayoune.

    The visit comes a week after the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released his annual report on the “Situation in the Western Sahara” and less than two weeks before the mandate of United Nations Missions for the Referendum in the Western Sahara, known by its French acronym as MINURSO, comes up for renewal.

    Last weekend King Mohammed VI held a phone call with the UN chief and reiterated Morocco’s constant commitment and constructive cooperation to reach a final political settlement to this regional dispute, within Moroccan sovereignty.

    King Mohammed VI further drew the UN secretary General’s attention to the imperative need to preserve the parameters of the negotiations as they were defined by the Security Council, safeguarding the current framework and modalities of the UN involvement and avoiding biased approaches and risky options.


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    Mostapha Terrab, CEO of OCP group

    Rabat- Morocco's OCP Group (phosphates) raised USD 1.55 billion in its debut international bond sale to help finance a $17 billion investment plan.

    Casablanca-based OCP sold USD 1.25 billion of 10-year bonds on Thursday to yield 5.75 percent, and issued USD 300 million of 30-year debt to yield 7.375 percent.

    Proceeds will be used for capital expenditures and general corporate purposes.

    OCP, the world’s biggest phosphate exporter, said in October it would invest 140 billion dirhams (USD 17 billion) to increase its market share of fertilizers to 40 percent by 2020. Its market share currently stands at 21 percent, OCP Chairman Mustapha Terrab told Le Matin newspaper last week.

    A "favorable market risk environment was probably the main supportive factor, but the positive story of the company and Morocco’s improving external perception did help," Samir Gadio, a London-based emerging markets strategist said.

    Meryem Chami, OCP’s executive director of planning and steering, said in October that the company should capture half of expected growth in global demand for phosphate-based fertilizers by tripling production capacity and focusing on Africa and South America.

    Last month, OCP signed an agreement to build four plants in Morocco and Gabon at a total cost of $2 billion to produce fertilizers for African markets intended to meet 30 percent of the continent’s needs.


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    Omar Hilale

    New York- Omar Hilale, who was entrusted by King Mohammed VI with the position of ambassador, Morocco's permanent representative to the United Nations Organization, handed on Thursday to UN secretary General Ban Ki-Moon a message from the Sovereign, on the latest UNSG report on the Sahara.

    During the meeting, the Moroccan diplomat underlined Morocco's fundamentals regarding the Sahara issue and pointed out that "any deviation from this framework will be dangerous" for the negotiations process.

    "Upon high instructions of HM the King, I was received by the Secretary General of the UNO to whom I handed a Royal message related to the UN latest report on the Moroccan Sahara", Hilale told MAP, noting that he seized this opportunity to recall "the fundamentals of political negotiations" which are "remaining faithful to the UN security council 2007 resolution that defines the mandate of the UN secretary general personal envoy".

    Hilale also recalled that King Mohammed VI had, during a phone conversation with Ban Ki-Moon in August 2012 "called for preserving the Personal Envoy's mandate of mediation, promotion of political settlement and supervision with precise terms as well as Morocco's contribution within the United Nations."

    This reminder of the terms of reference illustrates "Morocco's attachment to the political process", its earnest engagement in negotiations under the auspices of the secretary general and the Security Council, and at the same time its "firm opposition" to "any deviation from this framework that would be dangerous to the entire negotiations process."

    Hilale further argued that "as much as we are attached to the process of seeking a political, lasting and mutually acceptable solution to this regional dispute, as much we will oppose with strength and determination any attempt to use the issue of human rights to harm the integrity of Morocco's territory".


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    Opening of Embassy of Panama in Morocco

     Rabat- The headquarters of the Embassy of the Republic of Panama in Morocco was inaugurated Friday in Rabat, in the presence of the Panamanian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mayra Arosemena and several Moroccan officials.

    The inauguration of Panama 's diplomatic mission in Rabat, was attended by Foreign Minister, Salaheddine Mezouar, Minister-delegate for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mbarka Bouaida, Panama's ambassador to Morocco, the Latin American diplomatic corps accredited to Morocco, and the US Ambassador in Rabat.

    The Panamanian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs welcomed, in a statement to the press, the opening of Panama's embassy in Morocco, expressing her country's readiness to promote bilateral cooperation with Morocco.

    She expressed optimism about further strengthening bilateral economic and trade relations,  adding that Morocco is a gateway to Africa, while Panama is considered an entry point to South America, Central America, and the Caribbean.

    For her part, Bouaida said the inauguration of the Panamanian Embassy in Rabat is a landmark in Moroccan-Panamanian relations which is heralding a promising future in terms of political and economic exchanges.

    The Minister also noted that the withdrawal by Panama of its recognition of the so-called-SADR is part of the efforts of Panama to consolidate relations with all its partners in Africa.


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    Meriem Alaoui

    Taroudant, Morocco- Moroccan athlete Meriem Alaoui Selsouli has been officially suspended for eight years following a positive doping control at a meeting in Paris July 6, 2012, according to the Royal Moroccan Athletics Federation.

    The Court of Arbitration for Sport confirmed on April 14, 2014 the decision of the Royal Moroccan Athletics Federation to suspend the athlete Mariem Alaoui Selsouli from taking part in any athletic competition for a period of eight years.

    The Moroccan athlete, 30, improved the world’s season best record of 1500 m with 3 min 56 seconds 15/100e during the seventh stage of the Diamond League athletics in France, which took place in Paris on July 6, 2012.

    The world’s leader in the women’s 1500m is unlikely to take part in the future competitions after six years because of her age.

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed


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    Ouarzazat- Morocco is well known for its diversity in many ways, making it an attractive destination to foreigners who enjoy discovering diverse cultures, climates, geographical landscapes etc.

    Apart from the well-known big cities of Morocco, the small cities and oases of south-east region, such as Ouarzazate, Kelaa Megouna, Bomalne Dades, Tinghir, Zagoura and Arfoud are causes for wonder. While these cities have certain commonalities, including culture and dialect of Tamazight language; their landscapes range from mountains to desert. Having written on Boumalne in a previous article, I will address Ouarzazate: the gate to the Sahara and the Holly wood of Africa.

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    Ouarzazate is the largest city in south east Morocco. Previously, several other cities were its provincial subordinates, now it is known as the Big Ouarzazate. Located 540 kilometers from the capital, Rabat, and 205 kilometers from Marrakech, the region was comprised of about 56.000 habitants (2004 census). Aside from its demographics, Ouarzazate has many fascinating features that are of interest to tourists and aficionados of Morocco including city's historic and economic composition as well as landmark sites such as cinema studios, Kasbahs and oases.

    Etymologically, Ouarzazate is derived from the Amazigh words for 'without' (ouar), and 'noise' (zazt); essentially meaning a city without noise.

    Historically speaking, Ouarzazate is known for its role as a strategic and commercial junction between the south and the north. It is a site where different cultures and peoples meet. Ouarzazate has assumed a crucial strategic position since the French colonization (1956) when French powers chose it as a military base controlling the whole southeast region of Morocco. 

    Economically, Ouarzazate depends on simple agriculture and tourism. In terms of tourism, many sites including Kasbahs attract tourists thereby contributing to the development of the region's economy. Interestingly, in the last few decades, Ouarzazate became a center for film production where many famous films such as Gladiator took place. The result of this relatively recent phenomenon is that Ouarzazate has become even more globally recognized and has drawn the attention of investors in tourism and cinema. To encourage and enhance this domain two studios were established for the sake of professional production of films.

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    In addition to cinema, Morocco's ambition is to make Ouarzazate the source of unprecedented solar energy. In 2010, King Mohamed VI launched project NOOR intending to provide Morocco and various adjacent countries with solar energy. This project, in addition to tourism and cinema contributes to Ouarzazate becoming an economic hub in Morocco.

    In terms of tourist attractions, Kasbah Taourirt is a main event. It was built in 20th century, and was occupied by Caide Glaoui during the period of French powers in Morocco. It was a symbol of authority and French colonization. Now, it is a favorite tourist site by virtue of its beautiful architecture and significant history.

                                     [video id="zaw32wtxQkg" type="youtube"] Besides Kasbah Taourirt, Ksar ait Benhdou “Ait Benhadou Palace” is a popular must-see sight when visiting Ouarzazate. It is situated 30 km away from the center of Ouarzazate, it is a collection of adobe Kasbahs surrounded by a tall fortified wall. It is worth mentioning that Ait Benhdou Palace was considered a world heritage by UNESCO since 1987. Shots of the palace can be viewed in famous films such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Sheltering Sky, The rules of Engagement and the 2000 award winning “Gladiator”.       

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    As a result of the growth of cinema in the region, two film studios were founded in Ouarzazate: the CLA and Atlas. The latter, located 5 kilometers (3.1 mi) west of the city of Ouarzazate, is the larger, better equipped and the most important of the two. It was founded in 1983 by entrepreneur Mohamed Belghmi who capitalized on the beauty of Ouarzazate landscapes. This studio is responsible for making the historic city 'the Hollywood' of Africa, producing famous films:

    The Jewel of the Nile, The Living Daylights, The Mummy, Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, Asterix&Obelix: Mission Cleopatra and Babel.

    [video id="P1zGO0rdrTI" type="youtube"]

    With respect to the culture and traditions, Ouarzazate is a point where different cultures meet; however it is primarily known for its Amazigh customs and traditions. Ahwach is an example of the traditional music that is much appreciated there. To this day, Ahwach is an important feature in the people's celebrations, especially weddings.

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    For those who prefer the simple and quiet life, the oases of the city are incredibly welcoming. Among other areas in southeast Morocco, Fint Oasis is the most enchanting oasis in Ouarzazate. It’s shaped by featuring gorgeous palms and simple, traditional buildings; the oases attract people by virtue of their relaxing and clean nature, and are place to go for those who want to discover the beautiful simplicity of lives of the native people. Though Fint Oasis attracts countless tourists of different nationalities annually, many Moroccans are not aware of wonderful places and appealing landscapes Ouarzazate has to offer.

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    Ouarzazate deserves to be discovered for its marvelous landscapes, studios, oases, Kasbahs, culture, hostels and hospitable people. One can only hope to be able to visit again and again after the first life-changing visit.

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed

     

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    Marrakech Air Show To Take Place on April 23-26

    Taroudant, Morocco- Under the patronage of King Mohammed VI, the fourth edition of the International Exhibition of Aerospace Industries "Marrakech Airshow 2014" will take place from April 23 to 26 at the Royal Air Force military base in Marrakech.

    “The fourth Marrakech Airshow will be hosting once more, African and Mediterranean civil and military delegations as well as senior corporate executives in order to confederate Marrakech Airshow’s exchange platform and consolidate the position of Morocco within the development of the African aerospace industry,” according to the Marrakech AirShow website.

    The Marrakech Air Show, an International Aerospace Exhibition and Conference, is a gateway for better communication and greater opportunity for businesses working within the field of aerospace.

    More than 50 official delegations will attend the 2014 Marrakech Airshow.

    According to a statement from a French industrialist, published on Eturbonews, “Dassault Aviation will present its large cabin, long range Falcon 7X at the fourth Marrakech Air Show.”

    Edited by Liz Yaslik


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    France's Ambassador to the United Nations, Gerard Araud (Photo credit, United Nations)

    New York- Gérard Araud, France’s Ambassador to the United Nations, said in a Tweet on Friday that his country would not use its veto power in the Security Council against any resolution on the Sahara.

    The French diplomat was apparently answering the Polisario and its supporters, who accused France of its willingness to use its veto to block any resolution that doesn’t take into account Morocco’s interests.

    “Once for all and I stop here. France has NOT threatened to use its veto directly or not. The last French veto was in the 80s,” the French diplomat said.

    The UN Security Council is scheduled to vote on the renewal of the MINURSO’s mandate on April 23rd. But as in recent years, France won’t have to use its veto power, since the draft resolution that is being circulated to the Security Council members does not include any provision calling for the extension of MINURSO’s mandate to include a human rights monitoring mechanism, a position that has been defended in recent years by the Polisario and its supporters, mainly Algeria, South Africa and Nigeria.

    In all likelihood the French Ambassador made this tweet while being sure that the UNSC resolution on the renewal of MINURSO’s mandate will be adopted by consensus as has been the case in recent years.

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed


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    King Mohammed VI and Ban Ki-moon

    New York- The phone call held between King Mohammed VI of Morocco and the ban ki-moon has been instrumental in pushing the UN chief to review his report and take Morocco’s concerns into account.

    While the advance copy of the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stressed the need for the establishment of a human rights monitoring mechanism in the Sahara and the Tindouf camps, the final report, which has been made available on the UN website, makes no mention of such a mechanism.

    In the advance copy, which was released on April 10th, while welcoming the efforts made by Morocco to improve human rights in the Sahara and both parties’ readiness (Morocco and the Polisario) to cooperate with United Nations human rights bodies, the UNSG stressed that “such positive developments should  contribute to a more balanced and comprehensive monitoring of human rights.

    He went on to say that “The end goal nevertheless remains a sustained, independent and impartial human rights monitoring mechanism, covering both the Territory and the camps.”

    But, after the phone conversation between Morocco’s king and the UN chief, the word “mechanism” was deleted from the final UN report on the “Situation in the Western Sahara”. Accordingly paragraph 100 of the report reads as follows: “The end goal nevertheless remains the sustained, independent and impartial monitoring of human rights, covering both the Territory and the camps.”

    During the conversation he held with Ban ki-moon, King Mohammed reiterated Morocco’s “constant commitment and constructive cooperation to reach a final political settlement to this regional dispute, within Moroccan sovereignty.”

    The King further emphasized the “imperative need to preserve the negotiations parameters as they were defined by the Security Council, safeguard the current framework and modalities of the UN involvement and avoid biased approaches and risky options.”

    “Any straying from this track will be fatal for the ongoing process and holds dangers for any UN involvement in the issue,” king added.  

    The UN Security Council is scheduled to vote on April 23rd on the renewal of the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Organization of a Referendum in the Western Sahara, known by its French acronym as MINURSO.

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed

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    Suchil Koirla

    Katmandou - Nepalese prime minister, Sushil Koirala, stressed the need to consolidate friendship ties with Morocco and praised HM the King's leadership for peace and security in the region.

    Nepal shares with Morocco the same vision regarding peace and stability as pre-requisites for economic and social development, said the Nepalese prime minister while receiving Friday Morocco's ambassador to Nepal, based in New Delhi, Larbi Reffouh who was accompanied by head of Asian and Oceania affairs at the ministry of foreign affairs and cooperation, Mohamed Maliki.

    The head of the Nepalese government cites agriculture, tourism and trade as areas where the two countries need to promote bilateral cooperation, at a time the Asian country has started a peace and reconciliation process in order to guarantee an appropriate environment for development.

    Sushil Koirala, who was elected last February as head of government also praised similarity of viewpoints between Morocco and Nepal on international issues and their coordination within the United Nations.


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    LH-10 M, first made in Morocco aircraft

    Taroudant, Morocco- The French operational light aviation "LH Aviation" will open its construction unit in Morocco for the construction of an entirely "made in Morocco aircraft," the company stated this Friday, according to the Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).

    Based in Melun-Villaroche, the French light aircraft manufacturer opens 10% of its capital financed by the Moroccan Mohsine Bennani-Karim for LH Aviation missions (amounting to?) € 4 million.

    The Moroccan businessman Bennani-Karim will invest more than € 10 million in the creation of a local factory that will have a production capacity of 80 aircrafts LH-10M per year, marking the first aircraft built completely in Morocco.

    The industrial Bennani-Karim will hold 49% of the local facility’s stakes while 51% will go to LH Aviation.

    "After making its first deliveries in 2013, LH Aviation opens 10% of its capital for € 4 million to the Moroccan industrial investor,” Mohsine Bennani-Karim, who is on the board of directors of the French company, was quoted by the MAP as saying.

    The two-seat light aircraft LH-10 M designed by LH Aviation of France, which will be presented for the first time at the Marrakesh Airshow, is the first aircraft fully adapted to operate in different African environments.

    According to the manufacturer, the first aircraft "made in Morocco" enjoys the most modern manufacturing techniques and may carry effective operations.

    Edited by Sahar Kian


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    Filipino-Moroccan cooperation

    Rabat- Philippine authorities are preparing to provide the Moroccan government to put in place a bilateral labor accord to protect the rights of more than 3,000 Filipino migrant workers in the kingdom of Morocco.

    Boosting the Filipino-Moroccan cooperation between the two governments on the subject of migration, protection and promotion of rights of migrant workers, the Philippines is considering “forging a bilateral labor agreement with Morocco to protect the welfare and rights of Filipino migrant workers in the kingdom from employers' abuses,” reported Filipino media.

    In 2013, Aljazeera reported that Morocco is a country where labor laws hardly protect migrant workers, as some foreign domestic workers, including Filipino migrants are routinely illegally hired or deployed.

    However, the number of abuses against Filipino immigrants is small compared to those committed in the Middle East, including Lebanon and Egypt, according to the same source.

    The Philippines Embassy in Libya told GMA News Online that this bilateral labor agreement aims at covering the Philippines government’s limited assistance offered to the Filipino household workers who are illegally hired or deployed in tNorth Africa.

    “The agreement seeks to provide a legal framework for the deployment and hiring of Filipino workers in Morocco to curb illegal employment and trafficking in persons,” explained the Embassy in an email.

    Currently the Philippines Embassy is only able to extend help if the concerned household service worker or her relative in the Philippines comes forward and seeks help,” the Embassy said.

    The Embassy highlighted the Moroccan government’s current amnesty program “that allows overstaying migrants to legalize their stay in the country.”

    Edited by Saba Naseem


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    Moroccos-exports

    Marrakesh- Moroccan exports totaled 46.6 billion dirham ($5.7 billion) in the first quarter of 2014, an increase of 3.5 percent over the 45 billion dirham total during the same period last year, according to a report published by Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).

    Relatively new export sectors made a strong contribution to this increase including the auto industry, which saw shipments rise to 2.97 billion dirham during the first three months of the year, an increase of about 43 percent over the same period in 2013. 

    Statistics also showed that breakthroughs occurred in foreign sales of consumer electronics (21.2 percent), aviation products (5.9 percent) and pharmaceuticals (3.7 percent).

    However, exports of agricultural products dropped 3.4 percent in the first three months of 2014, according to Reuters, and are likely to fall even lower in the second half of the year. The agricultural sector accounts for 18 percent of Morocco’s GDP.

    The Minister of Investments, Moulay Hafid El Alamy, recently announced more promotional support for Moroccan exports.

    One of the key factors for increasing support for Moroccan exports has been identified as the rise in competition in the global marketplace.

     The automotive and aviation sectors have proved that they can rise to the challenge while the textile industry faces ongoing challenges due to the tough global competition.

    Edited by Liz Yaslik

     

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    Azoulay

    Rabat - The holding on April 24-27 of the 14th edition of the "Printemps des Alizés" will enhance the destination of Essaouira as an irreducible bastion of cultural diversity and privileged agora for all musical genres, said André Azoulay, the King's advisor and president of Essaouira Mogador Association.

    This 2014 edition of the "Printemps des Alizés" will follow the way which masters and pupils have frequently used together to revisit and share the most symbolic pieces of classical music, he told daily "Le Matin" on Monday.

    Remarkable on the back of its density, this cultural event features four concerts daily, and several musicians from all over the world, with a large array of formations ranging from the Morocco's Philharmonic Orchestra to soloists, he added.

    Brahms, Schumann, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt and Prokofiev performances will mark this dreamlike weekend during which music will wide open our doors to its universality and most thrilling promises, he said.


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    Abdelkader-Amara

    Rabat - Minister of Energy, Mines, Water and the Environment, Abdelkader Amara, held talks Monday in Rabat, with Ambassador of the United States of America in Morocco, Dwight L. Bush Sr., on ways to promote cooperation in the field of energy, including renewable energy.

    This meeting was an opportunity to discuss several topics including energy and ways to further promote the Moroccan-American cooperation in the energy field as well as the Free Trade agreement, Amara told the press.

    The two officials also discussed means to expand the prospects of this cooperation toward sub-Saharan countries, given the particular interest shown by HM King Mohammed VI and President Barack Obama toward the continent, he added, noting that Africa suffers from a shortage of equipment in terms of electrification and energy in general.

    In a similar statement, the American diplomat said he was "very happy" to be in Morocco, a "longtime friend," deeming as "constructive" the talks with the Moroccan Minister.

    This meeting also discussed "the opportunities to work together," Bush said, noting that they also focused on the commitment of His Majesty the King to expanding access to energy.


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    Fighter Jets from France

    Rabat- The French Air Force has recently handed the Moroccan Royal Air Force three Mirage F1- B, which are France’s most successful fighters.

    Boosting the military corporation between the two strategic partners, France put three Mirage F1- B jet fighters in the service of the Moroccan Royal Air Force after the French Air Force tested them.

    Moroccan pilots will deploy the old fighter aircrafts in Royal Air Force exercises, according to Almassa.

    According to the same source, the distinctive single-engine fighters were handed to the Moroccan army after Dassault Aviation, the manufacturing company, improved the fighter’s traditional delta wing design in order to facilitate the ability to use rudimentary runways.

     Last year, the Mirage F1- B was deployed to support the Baltic Air Policing mission in Lithuania and the French-led operation against extremists in Mali.

    Since 1966, this type of fighter jet has been exported by Dassault Aviation to the Middle East, Latin America, Europe, and Northern Africa, particularly Libya and Morocco.

    These three aircrafts will boost the Mirage F1- B collection of the Royal Air Force, which has already acquired 27 jet fighters of this kind.

    Edited by Melissa Smyth


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    King Mohammed VI of Morocco receiving UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

    New York- The latest diplomatic bout over the issue of Sahara involving the United Nations Secretary-General and King Mohammed VI himself proves that when the country's leadership and government is proactive concerning the Sahara, things can move in accordance with Morocco's interests.

    One case in point is what happened last year when the United States circulated a draft Security Council resolution on the Sahara that included provisions not in line with Morocco’s interest but soon after dropped the controversial element in the proposal. This happened after the Moroccan monarch unleashed an unprecedented diplomatic campaign to convince the American Administration and the members of the Security Council to forego the provision calling for the inclusion of a human rights monitoring mechanism in the mandate of the United Nations Mission for Referendum in Western Sahara, MINURSO. This year agan, the King’s diplomacy has proven equally effective.

    On April 10th, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, issued the advance copy of his annual report on the “Situation in the Western Sahara.”

    Although the report did not include a clear recommendation on the necessity to provide MINURSO with a human rights monitoring mechanism, it, however, included a sentence that I described as “troubling” in a previous article.

    “The end goal nevertheless remains a sustained, independent and impartial human rights monitoring mechanism, covering both the Territory and the camps,” the UN chief said in the advanced copy of his report.

    The statement, which in a way calls for the establishment of human rights monitoring mechanism in the Sahara, was not well received in Morocco, whose leaders viewed it as deviation from the United Nations core mandate, which is to help the parties to the Sahara conflict to find a mutually acceptable and political solution to the conflict.

    Two days later King Mohammed VI held a phone a call with Ban Ki-moon and reminded him of Morocco’s commitment to continuing its cooperation with the United Nations in order to put an end to the conflict. King Mohammed VI emphasized the imperative need to preserve the parameters of the negotiations “as they were defined by the Security Council, safeguarding the current framework and modalities of the UN involvement and avoiding biased approaches and risky options.”

    The phone call was followed by two symbolic yet decisive moves by the Moroccan monarch. The first was the appointment of Omar Hilale as Morocco’s new permanent representative to the United Nations in New York. Hilale, who from 2008 until his appointment last week served as Morocco’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, is known for being a well-spoken diplomat and a hardliner. He is also known for putting the Algerians on the defensive on the issue of human rights, responding to Algeria’s attacks on Morocco by using tactics similar to the Algerians'.

    The second move made by the King was his visit to the city of Dakhla, the second largest city of the Sahara after Laayoune. The timeliness of these decisions is not fortuitous. They come to show world leaders and the international public opinion that Morocco holds dear its sovereignty and won’t accept any UN mediation that won’t lead to the achievement of a mutually acceptable and political solution to the conflict based on the spirit of compromise and win-win. 

    Following the King’s timely phone call with the UN chief and the efforts made by Moroccan diplomats behind the scenes, Ban Ki-moon reviewed the advance copy of his report and took Morocco’s concerns into account.

    Unlike the first version of the report, in which the UNSG said that the end goal “remains a sustained, independent and impartial human rights monitoring mechanism,” in the Sahara and the Tindouf camps in Algeria, the final version of the report does not include the word “mechanism.”

    The change in the wording of this sentence renders the UN report more impartial and puts it in line with the UN's core mandate. The monitoring of human rights is not the main goal of this mandate, but could be considered one of the tools, if any, that are likely to help Morocco and the Polisario reach a final and political solution to the conflict away from any politicization.

    After this slight modification in the language of the UNSG report, it is unlikely that the resolution that will be adopted by the Security Council this week on the renewal of MINURSO mandate until April 2015 will include any provision establishing a human rights mechanism in the Sahara and the Tindouf camps.

    It is time that Moroccan officials built on this relative success and redoubled their efforts at every level throughout the year in order to garner more support to Morocco’s position regarding the conflict and convince world leaders and the international public opinion of the suitability of the Moroccan Autonomy Plan for the Sahara as basis for the achievement of a political solution to the conflict.

    To succeed in doing so, Moroccan officials should not limit themselves, as has been the case so far, to repeating  to our media quotes and testimonies by the members of the Security Council and other influential countries and figures describing Moroccan autonomy plan as “serious’ and credible” and as basis for a solution.

    This kind of statement will do little to advance Morocco’s standing and convince a mostly hostile international public opinion of its rightful position. What will help Morocco to score more strategic victories in its diplomatic war against Algeria and the other countries that support the Polisario is to launch a far-reaching international campaign to explain to the world the ins and outs of the Moroccan autonomy plan, why it is the most suitable solution to the conflict and why it is in line with international standards as regards the rights of self-determination.

    When one reads the Moroccan autonomy plan in detail, it becomes obvious that the prerogatives it offers the autonomous government that may eventually be installed in the Sahara - if a political solution is reached - are in line with international standards. But the international public opinion is not aware of the details of this autonomy plan, nor are Moroccans themselves cognizant of it.

    Morocco should also strive to shift the debate on the Sahara away from the politicized question of human rights and remind the United Nations that its core mandate is to focus on the achievement of a solution where the one party-takes-all approach is excluded. This implies that the UN needs to do away with its fixation on the classic concept of self-determination as necessarily leading to independence and a panacea that can be applied to every territorial conflict irrespective of the singularity of each case and without taking into account the reality on the ground.

    Moroccan officials should be reminded once again that the road will be arduous before they can come out victorious in this diplomatic war and that the country’s rivals will not sit idle and wait for Morocco to score more victories. They will rather redouble their efforts in order to stall the political process and thwart any diplomatic efforts geared towards helping the parties to the conflict achieve a political solution.

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.


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    alg-alicia-keys-jpg

    Taroudant, Morocco- The American singer Alicia Keys will perform at the 13th annual Mawazine Festival on Saturday, June 7th at OLM Souissi.

    Having previously performed at Mawazine in 2009, the soul diva Alicia Keys will close the 2014 Mawazine Festival with her performance in  Rabat.

    In a press release on its website, l’Association Maroc Cultures (the Moroccan Cultural Association) announced today that "the 15-time Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter/producer, Alicia Keys will close the 13th annual Mawazine Festival Rhythms of the World with a performance on Saturday, June 7, 2014 on the OLM-Souissi stage in Rabat."

    The closing ceremony on June 7th will also feature Saudi star Mohammed Abdou on the Nahda Stage.

    The Mawazine Festival Rhythms of the World, which brings together local and international artists, will run from  May 30th to June 7th this year.

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.

    Edited by Jessica Rohan


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    Map of the World's most miserable countries

    Rabat- Morocco Ranks 58 in the ‘Most Miserable Countries in the World.’

    According to the Cato Institute, a conservative public policy think tank in Washington D.C, Venezuela tops the list as the most miserable nation on the globe "with an index value of 79.4."

    Iran came second with an index value of 61.6, Serbia in third with 44.8.

    Ranked sixth, Egypt tops the list in the MENA region with an index value of 38.1, while Jordan, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia came in at 22, 30 and 40 respectively. Morocco was ranked 58th with an index value of 13.3.

    The factors used to calculate the misery index list includes inflation, unemployment, lending rates and the growth of GDP per capita.

    "For most people, their quality of life is important. Constituents prefer lower inflation rates, lower unemployment rates, lower lending rates, and higher GDP per capita," said the research.

    The same source added: "a simple sum of inflation, lending rates, and unemployment rates, minus year-on-year per capita GDP growth — is used to construct a ranking for 90 countries."

    Inflation was the major contributing factor in the misery index, accounting for Venezuela and Iran’s high rankings. For other countries, unemployment and interest rates were the determining factors, as is the case with Algeria, 46th with an index value of 16.8.

    Edited by Jessica Rohan

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    Members of Polisario Militia Defect to Youth for Change

    Taroudant, Morocco- Following the release of a series of videos posted on YouTube showing young Sahrawi activists protesting the alleged miserable conditions in which they are living under the Polisario leadership, a new video, posted on YouTube on April 25, showed militiamen who had been recruited in the fighting groups of the Polisario Front declaring their dissidence from the front and joining the Saharawi revolutionary movement  Shabab Attaghier - Youth for Change.

    The video, posted on YouTube by Laayoune TV channel, shows the declaration of the alleged military men of Polisario, who claim to be motivated by the desire to fight against "the corrupt leadership of the Polisario" and uncover "its various forms of trafficking and to denounce its violations of human rights."

    In the framework of a precise campaign for the truth in the Tindouf camps, we are members of the Polisario army units that recently joined the Youth for Change, and we would like to inform the Saharawi public opinion on the corruption of the leaders of Polisario, says one of the speakers in the video.

    The same source added that the main purpose of the leaders of Polisario is collecting money through embezzling the fuel destined for the camps and reselling it expensively in Mauritania and to groups in the north of Mali.

    Last week, sixteen refugees in the Tindouf camps in the Algerian territories decided to reside permanently in Morocco after the exchange of family visits that took place on April 16, under the supervision of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

    In opposition to the leadership of Polisario, the young Sahrawi activists of the movement Youth for Change  called on Saharawis to break the gag of silence imposed on them by the Polisario leadership and called on the international community to find an urgent solution to their unending suffering inside the camps.

    Last January, a wave of protests broke out in most of the camps in Tindouf, during which young Saharawis demanded the ability to exercise their inalienable rightsnamely, the right to freedom of expression and movement and the right to having decent employment.

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