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Cablegate: Morocco Political Highlights

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RABAT 002016

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/MAG, NEA/OFI
PARIS FOR ZEYA AND DEA
LONDON FOR TSOU
ROME FOR ROSE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PBTS SNAR MO
SUBJECT: MOROCCO POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS


1. Table of Contents

- King Mohammed Shows He's a Man of the People
- Swedish MPs Visit Laayoune
- Socialist Alliance Holds Town Meetings in Western Sahara
- PJD Organizes "Brotherhood Caravan"
- Drug Seizure in the North

--------------------------------------------
KING MOHAMMED SHOWS HE'S A MAN OF THE PEOPLE
--------------------------------------------

2. Foregoing an opportunity to lobby the world on the
Western Sahara at UNGA, King Mohammed VI elected instead to
stay home in Morocco to launch projects related to the
Palace-initiated National Human Development Initiative (INDH)
and demonstrate to Moroccans that he is a man of the people.
Coming on the heels of his widely covered visits to urban
sites in Tetouan and Casablanca, the King -- accompanied by
his brother, Moulay Rachid, and local officials -- traveled
to Meknes on September 19-22 where he kicked off INDH
projects on drinking water and liquid sanitation;
construction of a socio-cultural center; olive tree
cultivation; and rural roads and highways. Ditching at the
last minute his pre-arranged program, which had him visiting
freshly painted neighborhoods on a red carpet, the King
instead ventured tie-less into popular neighborhoods where he
talked with local residents, kissed babies and got his shoes
dusty. Powerful images of the King on television kneeling to
embrace a severely disabled youngster at Meknes' El Ichrak
Center of Education, Training and Integration of Disabled
Children have caused the most sensation. The King's travels
have been a huge hit with the people and the press and have
set a powerful example for government ministers -- who were
invited to accompany him -- to emulate. King Mohammed next
travels to Oujda on the Algerian border in the north.

--------------------------
SWEDISH MPs VISIT LAAYOUNE
--------------------------

3. A delegation of Swedish parliamentarians (MPs) visited
Laayoune and Rabat on September 15-21, according to Moroccan
news reports. In Laayoune, the Swedish delegation met with
the new Wali, Charki Draiss; Sahrawi MPs; local elected
officials; members of civil society; and former Polisario
officials. In his meeting with the delegation, the Wali
restated Morocco's call for a "negotiated political solution"
to the Western Sahara that would guarantee Morocco's unity
and sovereignty over its "southern provinces." He reportedly
recounted the suffering of Moroccan citizens "sequestered" in
Tindouf who, having been forced to go to Tindouf, have become
a "bargaining chip" for the "enemies" of Morocco's
territorial integrity. In Rabat, the delegation met with
Parliament Speaker Abdelwahed Radi, Minister of Health
Mohamed Cheikh Biadillah (a Sahrawi) and Ministry of Foreign
Affairs Secretary General Omar Hilal. Interviewed on
Moroccan national television on September 20, the Swedish MPs
said they were pleased to see for themselves the "real
picture" of what is going on in Laayoune rather than being
told by others. They said they were "surprised" by the level
of development and infrastructure they witnessed in Laayoune.

--------------------------------------------- -----------
SOCIALIST ALLIANCE HOLDS TOWN MEETINGS IN WESTERN SAHARA
--------------------------------------------- -----------

4. According to Moroccan daily Al Bayane, members of
parliament's Socialist Alliance caucus held a series of town
gatherings in Boujdor, Dakhla, Laayoune and Smara in the
Western Sahara on September 18-21. The purpose of the
meetings was to give the local population an opportunity to
vent freely and openly their frustrations with the national
government. Socialist Alliance caucus leader Mohammed
Ahajjam, who visited the US earlier this year, pledged to the
participants that his caucus would transmit their comments
and complaints to the appropriate authorities and take up
their cause with vigor in parliament. Frequent problems
cited by the participants, according to Al Bayane, included
complaints about 1) the absence of politicians in their
districts except at election time; 2) elected officials who
forget their election promises; 3) elected officials who only
take care of their friends and those close to them once in
office; 4) lack of jobs, especially among Sahrawi youth; 5)
unhealthy living conditions; 6) a public school system that
does not measure up to expectations; 7) a poor public health
system; 8) abuses of power; and 9) a suffocating and slow
bureaucracy. Al Bayane reported that not one participant
ever denied or questioned their identity as Moroccans during
the discussions.

-----------------------------------
PJD ORGANIZES "BROTHERHOOD CARAVAN"
-----------------------------------

5. In an initiative conceived by the Islamist Party of
Justice and Development (PJD), Morocco's political parties
will launch the "Brotherhood Caravan" on October 23,
according to Moroccan news reports. The caravan will feature
the voyage of 16 families -- chosen to represent each of
Morocco's 16 regions -- through 7 Moroccan cities to
destinations in Laayoune, Smara and Dakhla in the Western
Sahara where they will take up residence with 16 Sahrawi
families. Symbolizing that all Moroccans are members of the
same family, the 16 Sahrawi families will then make a similar
trip in reverse traveling north to take up residence in a
home located in each of Morocco's 16 regions. According to
reports, the caravan will depart Fes (Istiqlal) on October 23
and travel through Meknes (PJD), Rabat (National Movement),
Casablanca and Marrakech (Constitutional Union), Agadir
(Socialist Union of Popular Forces), and Tiznit (Party of
Progress and Socialism) where the traveling families will be
treated to a big rally hosted by the respective locally
elected mayor (whose respective party affiliations are
indicated above in parentheses). In addition to members of
the Moroccan press, 16 foreign journalists will be invited to
travel with the caravan. According to PJD parliamentarian
Lahcen Daoudi, the caravan is being organized to coincide
with the 30th anniversary of the Green March on November 6.

-------------------------
DRUG SEIZURE IN THE NORTH
-------------------------

6. According to Moroccan daily L'economiste, the Royal
Gendarmerie of Tetouan seized two tons of hashish in a rural
village near the northern mountain town of Chefchaouen on
September 19. One drug trafficker was arrested in the
operation.
RILEY

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