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Cablegate: Morocco: Rep. Hastings Engages Parliament

VZCZCXRO4602
RR RUEHTRO
DE RUEHRB #1194/01 3591259
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 241259Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9487
INFO RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 4944
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 3183
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 2475
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 6077
RUEHNM/AMEMBASSY NIAMEY 1168
RUEHNK/AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT 3823
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 5147
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 0398
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 9758
RUEHCL/AMCONSUL CASABLANCA 4434
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 0030

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RABAT 001194

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE FOR NEA/MAG AND H

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL OREP PGOV WI AG MO
SUBJECT: MOROCCO: REP. HASTINGS ENGAGES PARLIAMENT

1. (SBU) Summary: Chairman of the Commission on Security and
Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) Representative Alcee Hastings
encouraged members of the Morocco's lower house of parliament
to press the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCEPA) to allow greater
participation by non-member partner states in OSCEPA
meetings. He proposed holding a formal consultation in the
CSCE in Washington with OSCEPA Mediterranean Partners to
discuss ways to update and reform the OSCE and suggested he
could accept an intern from Morocco. The Moroccan
parliamentarians welcomed the visit and expressed interest in
Hastings' proposals. They encouraged the United States to
continue pushing for a resolution to the Western Sahara
issue. End Summary.

---------------------------------------
The OSCE and its Mediterranean Partners
---------------------------------------

2. (SBU) In a December 1 meeting with members of the
Moroccan Chamber of Deputies (lower house of parliament),
CSCE Chairman Representative Alcee Hastings (D - FL), who was
in Morocco as the special representative of the Chairman of
the OSCEPA, encouraged Moroccan Members of Parliament (MPs)
to pressure the Parliamentary Assembly to amend its rules to
allow for greater participation by non-member observer
states, such as Morocco, at OSCEPA meetings. He specifically
suggested that they request a clarification of the definition
of an oral question in OSCEPA by-laws to allow non-members
greater latitude to engage in OSCE ministerial and
parliamentary deliberations. Hastings commended Morocco for
its substantive engagement in the OSCE's Mediterranean
Partners program and offered to invite appropriate MPs to a
consultation session he is planning to hold in Washington, DC
in 2009 in the CSCE to gather input from non-member OSCE
partners on reforming and updating the organization.

3. (SBU) Rep. Hasting's host at parliament, Mustapha
Ibrahimy, Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies' Human Rights
Committee and member of the leftist Union of Popular
Socialist Forces (USFP), said that the Chamber's President,
Mustapha Mansouri, had wanted to meet Rep. Hastings, but was
regrettably overseas. Migration and trafficking issues
(human and narcotic) occupied much of the Chamber's
engagement with European parliamentarians. Through its
representatives to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the
Chamber remains committed to continued dialogue within a
"framework of respect for human rights and women's equality."
He and others expressed interest in Hasting's proposed
hearing.

-----------------------------------
Morocco, Algeria and Western Sahara
-----------------------------------

4. (SBU) Ibrahimy and others criticized Algeria for refusing
to open its border with Morocco, which was "catastrophic" and
a "threat to regional security and integration." Ibrahimy
grumbled that Algiers ignored King Mohammed VI's overtures
and conciliatory gestures. Member of the Islamist-inspired
Party of Justice and Development (PJD) and Second
Vice-President of Parliament Abdallah Baha said that recent
statements by Polisario leadership alluding to a return to
armed struggle were "unhelpful" and he urged the USG to
remain engaged. USFP MP Khalid El Hariri said "this frozen
conflict served nobody's purposes."

5. (SBU) Khalid El Hariri warned against taking too
simplistic a view of what constituted security, saying that
economic development, more effective intelligence services,
trusted police, equality and justice all "conspired" to
create a safe Morocco and that "no one thread could be broken
from the others" in the pursuit of stability. He added that
environmental issues should be part of the security debate.
He criticized the USG for not participating in the Kyoto
climate discussions and encouraged the incoming Obama
administration to do so.

---------------

RABAT 00001194 002 OF 002


A Woman's Voice
---------------

6. (SBU) Mbarka Bouaida, of the centrist National Rally of
Independents (RNI), the lone woman in the group, said that
increasing women's participation in the political process was
one of the most important challenges currently before
Parliament. She said that new amendments to the electoral
code passed on November 28 were designed to increase female
representation at the local and national level from under 1
percent to 12 to 15 percent. She expressed a hope the OSCE
Mediterranean Partner program could help support Morocco's
efforts to promote women's representation.

-----------------------------
Almost No Parliamentary Staff
-----------------------------

7. (SBU) Rep. Hastings strongly encouraged the legislature
to strengthen professional staff capacity and training in
order to improve institutional ability to research and
produce appropriate legislation. As an example, Rep.
Hastings explained that he has 17 staffers in his
congressional office and 13 attached to his CSCE position.
One of the Moroccans ruefully retorted, "I have one tea
server." (Note: Parliament as a whole has only has a limited
cadre of staffers. Many are hired for patronage, performing
basic service functions only. Members have no personal
professional legislative staff. End Note.) In response,
Rep. Hastings made a standing offer to place a Moroccan staff
intern in his office if parliament sent him one, to begin the
exchange of ideas and skills between the U.S. Congress and
Moroccan Parliament. Some deputies expressed interest in
this proposal.

8. (U) Rep. Hastings did not have an opportunity to clear
this cable before his departure.


*****************************************
Visit Embassy Rabat's Classified Website;
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/rabat
*****************************************

Riley

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