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Cablegate: Parliament: Lower House Committee Set to Vote On

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 RABAT 002043

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR NEA/MAG, NEA/OFI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM KMPI MO
SUBJECT: PARLIAMENT: LOWER HOUSE COMMITTEE SET TO VOTE ON
DRAFT PARTY LAW ON SEPTEMBER 27

REF: A. RABAT 1539 AND PREVIOUS
B. RABAT 2000

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: As the Interior, Decentralization and
Infrastructure Committee in parliament's Chamber of
Representatives (lower house) prepares to vote on the
government's draft law on political parties on September 27,
Post wishes to highlight for Washington readers key
provisions in the draft legislation and the principal
elements in the bill that have generated the most debate
among political parties. Once passed in committee, the
legislation will have to be voted on in the 325-member lower
house before it can be moved to the Chamber of Councilors
(upper house). The lower house has not yet announced whether
it will hold an extraordinary session for this purpose,
though reports indicate that such a session is a strong
possibility. If not, parliament will take up the legislation
again when its 2005-2006 legislative session convenes on
October 14. END SUMMARY.

---------------------------
THE BILL AND ITS PROVISIONS
---------------------------

2. (U) The current bill, which was submitted to parliament
at the close of its spring session in July 2005 (Ref A), is
divided into 7 sections and 62 articles, which are summarized
as follows:

Title I: General Provisions

-- Any party whose purpose or goals are contrary to the
Moroccan Constitution or whose aim is to attack the Islamic
religion, the monarchic regime or the kingdom's territorial
integrity shall be found null and void (Article 4)
-- Any party that is founded on a religious, linguistic,
ethnic or regional basis shall be found null and void
(Article 4)
-- Members of Parliament shall not be allowed to switch
parties until after their terms are over (Article 5)

Title II: Creation of Political Parties

-- A party's founding members and leaders must be at least 23
years old (Article 7)
-- Founding members of a political party must submit to the
Interior Ministry (MOI) a file containing a declaration of
the constitution of the party bearing the signatures of three
founding members and the written commitment of at least 300
founding members to hold the party's constituent congress
within one year of MOI authorization to create the party;
these 300 individuals must represent at least half of
Morocco's 16 regions, with no single region having less than
5 percent of the total number of founding members (Article 8)
-- The constituent congress must include at least 500 party
delegates, including at least 3/4 of the party's founding
members, resident in at least half of Morocco's 16 regions,
with no single region having less than 5 percent of the total
(Article 13)

Title III: Statutes, Organization and Administration of
Political Parties

-- Political parties shall be organized and administered in
accordance with the "principles of democracy" granting the
possibility to all members to participate effectively in the
management of the party's different governing bodies (Article
21)
-- A party's statutes shall provide for the participation of
a "proportional number of women and youth" in the management
of the party's governing bodies (Article 22)
-- The method of selecting and accrediting party candidates
for any election shall be based on the "principles of
democracy" (Article 24)

Title IV: Financing of Political Parties

-- A party's financial resources shall be limited to
membership fees; donations, legacies and gifts, in cash or in
kind, not exceeding 100,000 Dirhams (USD 11,000) per year per
person; revenues from social or cultural activities; and
government subsidies (Article 28)
-- State subsidies shall be given only to parties that
receive 5 percent of the national vote as taken in all local
electoral districts as a contribution toward their operating
expenses (Article 29)
-- Parties must be created and operate solely on the basis of
nationally raised funds (Article 31)
-- Cash remittances to parties must not exceed 1,000 Dirhams
(USD $110); larger amounts must be transmitted by bank check
or postal check; any party expenditure exceeding 5,000
Dirhams (USD 550) must be paid by check only (Article 32)
-- A party's books must be closed out yearly, certified by a
certified accountant, and kept for 10 years (Article 34)
-- The amount of the government's subsidy to parties will be
determined in proportion to the number of seats a party has
in both houses of parliament and the number of votes obtained
by the party in parliamentary elections (Article 35)
-- Parties must submit each year by March 31 a full
accounting of the previous year's revenues and expenses; any
person can consult these disclosures at the Court of Auditors
(Article 37)
-- Any party that does not convene its national congress
within a period of four years shall lose its right to the
annual government subsidy (Article 40)

Title V: Unions of Political Parties

-- Legally constituted political parties can freely unite
themselves in unions with the status of a legal entity in
view of "working collectively to achieve common objectives"
(Article 41)
-- The state's annual subsidy to political parties shall also
be granted to unions that have accredited candidates in at
least 3/4 of local legislative districts provided that the
union wins at least 5 percent of the total popular vote
(Article 47)
-- The state's subsidy to party unions shall be calculated on
the basis of the number of seats held by member parties in
both houses of parliament and the number of votes obtained by
the union or by the member parties of the union during
general parliamentary elections (Article 48)

Title VI: Sanctions

-- The Administrative Court of Rabat shall order the
suspension of a party and the temporary closure of its
headquarters as required by the MOI if a party's activities
are deemed to "offend the public order" (Article 50)
-- Any party that incites armed demonstrations in the
streets, or which presents, due to its form as a military or
paramilitary organization, the features of a combatant group
or private militia, or which aims to seize power through
violent means, harm the Muslim religion, the monarchic
regime, or the kingdom's national integrity, will be
dissolved by justified decree (Article 57)

Title VII: Transitory Provisions

-- On a temporary basis, and until the results of the next
parliamentary elections are announced, the state shall grant
to party unions whose member parties won a total of at least
5 percent of the votes cast during the last general
parliamentary elections an annual subsidy based on the number
of seats the parties have in parliament and on the total
number of votes the parties obtained (Article 60)
-- Parties that already exist as of the date this law goes
into effect shall have two years to conform to its
provisions; this compliance shall be effected during a
regular or an extraordinary party congress (Article 62)

---------------
PARTY POSITIONS
---------------

3. (SBU) A steady stream of reporting in the Moroccan press
since the lower house's Interior Committee began its
examination of the party bill on September 11 gives some
insight into the different party positions on the draft law.
According to the reports, the Socialist Union of Popular
Forces (USFP) joined with its Koutla coalition partner
Istiqlal and the Popular Movement Union (UMP) teamed up with
the National Rally of Independents (RNI) to present joint
amendments to the committee. The reports indicate that USFP
and Istiqlal (who received, respectively, 13 percent and 12
percent of the total popular vote in 2002) favor a raising of
the funding threshold to 10 percent of the total vote rather
than the 5 percent that is currently written into the bill.
The two parties also support amending Article 15 to allow the
MOI only 7 days rather than the 30 days that is currently
stipulated to study a prospective party's application before
approving the file.

4. (SBU) The UMP and RNI, both of which received about 10
percent of the vote in 2002, favor the bill's 5-percent
funding threshold as a protection against the exclusion of
smaller parties. Their proposed amendments also include the
introduction of an eighth section that would address
considerations for party mergers (party "unions" are already
addressed in section 5). The two parties also favor a
strengthening of the law's provisions on youth representation
with an eye toward ensuring greater participation of those 35
years and below in party management structures. The two
parties argue that the government's subsidy should take into
account the level of representation of women and youth in a
party's governing bodies.

5. (SBU) According to the reports, the Islamist Party for
Justice and Development (PJD) objects to the "ambiguity" of
Article 4, which prohibits the founding of any party on the
basis of religion, language, ethnicity, or region. According
to the party's lower house caucus leader, Abdellah Baha, this
article is an "open door to dangerous interpretations."
Cited in Moroccan daily Aujourd'hui Le Maroc, Baha explains
that since the Moroccan Constitution defines Morocco as a
Muslim state, "the forbidding of parties from having an
Islamic reference could lead to their exclusion" from the
political system. The PJD proposes the article be amended to
instead read that parties should not be based on "religious,
linguistic, ethnic or regional exclusion." In addition to
this amendment, the PJD supports the raising of the funding
threshold for parties to 7 percent so as to not "exclude
small parties while protecting the political scene from
balkanization," according to Baha. The PJD also favors a
general strengthening of the role of the judiciary in
regulating and controlling Moroccan political parties and a
lessening of the role of the MOI.

6. (SBU) Breaking ranks with its Koutla partners USFP and
Istiqlal, the Socialist Alliance -- the smallest of
parliament's seven lower house caucuses -- submitted its own
list of proposed amendments. In addition to favoring holding
on to the current 5-percent funding threshold ("By
definition, government aid should, in principle, favor those
who do not have sufficient means," wrote the caucus' leading
newspaper Al Bayane), the Alliance also proposes that no
single sex should exceed two thirds of the leadership
positions of a given party.

-------
COMMENT
-------

7. (SBU) By all accounts, debate within the Interior
Committee on the draft party law has been intense and lively.
This despite the conventional wisdom that since the MOI
consulted extensively with parties and civil society before
submitting the law to parliament the bill would only be
subjected to cursory changes in committee. To facilitate
this discussion further, the Mission will host on October 4 a
debate for Moroccan stakeholders on the draft law. This
event comes on the heels of a similar activity organized by
USAID's Parliament Support Project on September 14 (Ref B).
END COMMENT.
BUSH

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