Cablegate: Mepi Update for Morocco


DE RUEHRB #1471/01 2140756
R 020756Z AUG 06





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A) Rabat 0399, B) Rabat 2509

1. Summary: This cable highlights MEPI programs and initiatives in
Morocco from April 1-June 30. Activities included visits by
representatives from MEPI Washington, the Ambassador's visit to
Oujda, his meeting with the International Republican Institute
(IRI), judicial reform, a regional conference on the family code, a
regional workshop to test a manual on family code advocacy,
Moroccan media issues, a workshop on handicraft exports to the U.S,
Moroccan participation at the annual American-Jordanian Exhibition,
promoting free trade and economic growth and the Financial Services
Volunteer Corps (FSVC) projects. Implementers are partnering with
local NGOs at the grassroots level to support numerous programs
committed to reform in the four MEPI pillars. End summary.


2. MEPI Women's Pillar Program Manager Olivia Ricchi visited
Morocco on May 26-30 to attend the Demos Institute regional workshop
to test a manual on family code advocacy. Ricchi met with
l'Association de Femmes Chefs d'Entreprise (AFEM) (Women Business
Owners Association) to discuss their role as one of seven hubs for
the Arab Business Women Network (ABWN). The official launch of the
hubs will be July 3 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with a summit held in
October in Abu Dhabi. A Moroccan representative was invited to
attend the "Many Faces, One Voice" 2006 mission conference organized
by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (Komen) in Washington
D.C. from June 11-13. During this event a partnership between
Komen, Saudi Arabia and the UAE was announced. Morocco's
participant was Dr. Maria Bennani of the Lalla Salma Foundation for
the Fight against Cancer. She also met with members of the
embassy's Women's Pillar committee.

3. Chad Bettes from NEA/PI visited Morocco from June 7-10 to help
establish the MEPI Alumni Network. He met individually with MEPI
implementers such as, IRI, the American Bar Association (ABA), FSVC,
the American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham), Arab Civitas,
International Executive Service Corps (IESC), and the
America-Mideast Educational and Training Services, Inc. (AMIDEAST).
He also met with emboffs to discuss ways of improving coordination
efforts in MEPI programs.

4. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
Karen Hughes visited Morocco from June 4-7. She met with Moroccan
officials to discuss the important social, political and economic
reforms the GOM has undertaken. In Casablanca and Rabat, she
visited several Moroccan NGOs involved in advancing the empowerment
of women, some of which have benefited from MEPI funding, such as
the "Association Solidarit fminine" for single mothers, and "Riwak
El Fanni", an NGO that organizes literacy classes for women using
content based on the revised family code. She also paid visit to
the American Language Center, where she met young people attending
English Access Micro classes.


5. From May 2-5, 2006, the Ambassador conducted an outreach tour to
the eastern province of Oujda. The primary aims of the visit were
to inaugurate Morocco's first American Corner at the municipal
library in Oujda and to learn about local projects funded by the USG
and American and Moroccan NGOs in the region. He inaugurated a
computer lab at El Qods College in Oujda. The lab is funded by MEPI
and managed by USAID under its ALEF (Advancing Learning and
Employability for a Better Future) program and serves as a
pedagogical resource for students and teachers. USAID employees
briefed the Ambassador on a USAID/Morocco funded agribusiness
program that provides technical assistance to help Moroccan farmers
from the region to take advantage of FTA opportunities to export to
the U.S.


6. On May 18, IRI's Resident Director Sarah Johnson briefed the
Ambassador on the results of its second public opinion poll. The
poll included 1500 respondents and provided benchmark political data
as well as an in-depth look into Moroccan's attitudes towards
political reform and governing institutions. The research offers
political leaders and decision-makers an opportunity to learn about
priorities and opinions of their constituents. The results were
similar to IRI's previous poll but have not been made public.


7. In cooperation with the Institut Superieur de la Magistrature
(ISM) - Morocco's national judicial training institute - ABA
organized a two-day MEPI-funded training program on June 15-16 in
Marrakech for women judges, prosecutors and lawyers. The training
focused on a number of specific women's rights issues arising from
recent revisions of the criminal procedure, labor and family codes.
The training brought together nearly 40 judges and lawyers from the
cities of Agadir, Marrakech, Ouarzazate and Safi for what was the
first ISM-sponsored training event jointly organized for judges and
lawyers to share experience and views on recent women's rights
developments in the revised codes. The trainers, including judges
from chambers of the Supreme Court, and leading lawyers co-presented
the training sessions.
8. The ABA judicial training program conducted a study tour on
judicial ethics. From June 17-24 a select group of judges visited
the U.S. and Canada in an intensive series of lectures, meetings and
workshops. The purpose of the tour was to ascertain the principles
embodied in a formal code of ethics. The ABA has been awarded a new
USD 1.2 million USAID-managed program in partnership with the ISM.
The program is designed to integrate gender and family laws into the
curriculum of ISM and the training of new judges.

--------------------------------------------- ---
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9. From May 26-28, MEPI implementer Demos Institute held a testing
workshop for a manual it developed for regional use on advocacy for
family code. Women from Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority,
Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq and Morocco attended the successful
event. The project is currently on schedule and Demos is planning
to submit a proposal for possible follow-on funding for a second
phase to include an interactive website and a train-the-trainers

Moroccan Media Issues

10. The High Authority for Audio-Visual Communication (HACA) granted
11 new radio licenses (including to Radio Sawa) and one new
television license in May 2006, heralding a new era for the Moroccan
broadcast media sector. More licenses are expected to be issued in
roughly a year once the GOM has had a chance to gauge the effects on
the Moroccan public of the first wave of new radio stations.

11. In March and April, a MEPI request for applications (RFA) for
independent media raised concerns with the GOM because it appeared
to violate Moroccan law. In March, shortly after post circulated
MEPI's RFA for projects to benefit free and independent press in the
region, the Moroccan National Press Union (SNPM) began a media
campaign denouncing MEPI and the RFA in several papers. Journalists
reported to Public Affairs Rabat that Morocco's press code made it
illegal for Moroccan media to accept funding or equipment from
foreign governments. Unfriendly press articles continued into April
and at one point Ambassador Riley discussed the situation with
Foreign Minister Benaissa and Minister of Communications
Benabdallah. It was agreed that because of the legal impediments,
MEPI funding, if granted, would be used for training and other legal
contributions. In the end, no Moroccan proposals were selected for
this particular RFA.


12. AmCham organized on May 31st a workshop on exporting handicrafts
to the U.S. The workshop featured several case studies of
successful exporting to the U.S. market, presented by Zid Zid Kids
(children's decor items) and Morocco Magic (carpets), as well as
remarks by representatives of the Moroccan Export Promotion Center
(CMPE), the Moroccan Ministry of Tourism and Handicrafts, and the
Maison de l'Artisanat another key player in the sector.


13. MEPI grantees IESC and Amcham participated in the annual
American-Jordanian Exhibition (AJEX) in Jordan from June 7-8 to
enhance investment and trade between Jordan and the U.S. and to
promote U.S. business cooperation with Middle East countries. AJEX
provides a platform for Jordanian, U.S. and international business
leaders to explore and learn more about business opportunities,
utilizing preferential trade arrangements and agreements between
Jordan and the U.S., the European Community and Arab MENA countries.
AmCham-Morocco's Executive Director, Carl Dawson, and IESC-
Morocco's Director, Kamal Elmedkouri, participated in this event as
key note speakers.


14. The U.S. Department of Commerce under the Commercial Law
Development Program (CLDP) funded by MEPI organized a round of
consultations in Washington D.C from June 19-23 for General Counsels
and Directors of Regulation from key Morocco Ministries on
"Regulatory Transparency". The main objective of the consultations
was to create an inter-agency consensus among the delegates, before
they return to Morocco, on changes that need to take place in the
country for regulatory transparency, compliant with the FTA and
adapted to Morocco's specific context. The consultations offered an
opportunity for U.S. experts and the Moroccan delegates to share
their experiences on issues of effective regulatory transparency.
In order to foster such dialogue, the Moroccan delegates explained
to the U.S. experts the steps Morocco has already taken towards
regulatory transparency and the problems it has encountered. CLDP
provides technical assistance to Morocco, within the framework of
the U.S.-Morocco FTA, in three main fields: Standards, Government
Procurement and Intellectual Property. In order to help Morocco
comply with its transparency commitments under the FTA, post has
asked CLDP to design and implement a MEPI funded program of
technical assistance specifically focused on regulatory


15. Between April and June, MEPI-funded FSVC implemented five
projects in Morocco including Outsourcing Strategies, Operational
Risk Bank Supervision, Fund Structure and Operational Improvements,
Organizational and Investment Procedures, and Market Risk activities

16. FSVC's recent programs entailed work with BMCE Bank on its
current back-office structure, and strategies to improve back-office
operations. From May 29-June 2, FSVC volunteers trained Bank
al-Maghrib's (the Central Bank) supervisory staff on the different
processes, approaches, and tools bank examiners employ to identify,
assess, and monitor a commercial bank's operational risk. From June
12-16 FSVC volunteers consulted with senior management and staff at
Casablanca Finance Group (CFG), a boutique investment house and
private equity fund management firm investing in SMEs in Morocco on
internal fund management structure, and policies and procedures.
FSVC volunteers also consulted with Moussahama (the private equity
and venture investing arm of the Banque Centrale Populaire) senior
management on the development of an efficient investment process and
portfolio oversight process to address current challenges that
Moussahama faces in managing its current portfolio of SME
investments, as well as potentially raising new funds in the future
for investing in growing Moroccan SMEs. FSVC organized a one-week
in-house visit to the U.S with leading international banks for BMCE
risk managers to directly observe how market risk is managed. They
met with key risk professionals to discuss creating integrated Basel
II risk management practices. FSVC also worked on sixth project,
Strategic Assessment of a Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs).
However because this was not within its scope of work with MEPI it
had to be paid for through another source.

17. A detailed description of MEPI programs in Morocco can be found
on the Mission unclassified Internet web page at


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