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Cablegate: Morocco Elections: Situation Report As of 1300 Gmt

VZCZCXRO1055
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHRB #1421 2501325
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 071325Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7361
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 3381
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 5780
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 4751
RUEHCL/AMCONSUL CASABLANCA 3451

UNCLAS RABAT 001421

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PGOV MO
SUBJECT: MOROCCO ELECTIONS: SITUATION REPORT AS OF 1300 GMT
SEPTEMBER 7

REF: A. RABAT 1419
B. RABAT 1408 AND PREVIOUS

Sensitive but Unclassified. Please protect accordingly.

1. (SBU) General parliamentary elections, Morocco's first in
five years, are being staged today, September 7. Polling
stations opened across the country at 0800 GMT. 10 teams
from Embassy Rabat and Consulate Casablanca deployed to the
field are reporting apparently light to moderate turnout.

2. (SBU) In Kenitra, about 30 KM north of Rabat, The majority
of voters sighted in Kenitra appeared to be middle aged and
retirees. In rural areas north of Kenitra city, we heard
that illiterate voters were arriving advised of which party
symbol to choose at the ballot box.

3. (SBU) In the Ben Guerir district, roughly mid-way between
Casablanca and Marrakech, an Embassy team reported that of
several polling stations visited, one in a poor/slum area was
the busiest by far. The race in Ben Guerir has gained
national and even international attention due to the
candidacy of former deputy Interior Minister and royal
confidant Fouad Ali Al-Himma.

4. (SBU) An Embassy team in Meknes reported an apparently
strong turnout with a diverse group of men, women, and youth
all lined up to vote. By contrast, a Consulate Casablanca
team in Mohammadia reported an apparently light turnout.
Most of the voters sighted were women.

5. (SBU) Turnout was also reported light in Al-Jadida.
There, representatives of the Islamist PJD and leftist USFP
approached Consulate Casablanca team to report that the mayor
and a councilman of the nearby village of Oulad Frej, both of
the nationalist Istiqlal party, were arrested on September 5
distributing money to local residents. The party reps who
reported the incident complained that although the mayor and
councilman had spent the night in jail, they were released
the following day and the corruption charges dropped. They
may face a lesser charge in the future.

6. (SBU) An Embassy team in Marrakech reported apparently
light turnout and a quiet atmosphere. About 15 men and one
women were seen waiting to vote at a polling station in a
wealthy suburb, and an exclusively male group waiting to vote
in a middle class neighborhood. In a working class district,
a polling station appeared completely empty of voters.

7. (SBU) In the southern port of Agadir, Consulate Casablanca
team reports a relatively high turnout. Most voters sighted
appeared to be poor and/or working class, roughly equally
split between men and women.

8. (SBU) All teams report that turnout is expected to
increase after Friday midday prayers, set to end around 1330
GMT.


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

RILEY

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