Cablegate: Marrakesh's First Female Mayor Sets An


DE RUEHRB #0875/01 3011408
P 281408Z OCT 09



E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Marrakesh Mayor Fatima Zohra El
Mansouri, the first female mayor of a major Moroccan
city, discussed with PolOffs her goals of providing
good governance and bringing real improvements to the
lives of Marakesh's residents. She also described
the challenges of managing a city hall composed of a
broad coalition of political parties and attitudes
toward good governance. Mansouri waxed eloquent
about how crucial it is for her Party of Authenticity
and Modernity (PAM) to demonstrate that it can govern
effectively and transparently -- given how heavily it
emphasized these themes during the campaign.
Mansouri also offered enthusiastic support for the
Secretary's upcoming visit to Marrakesh. END


2. (U) On October 22, PolCouns and Political
Assistant met with Mayor of Marrakesh Fatima Zohra El
Mansouri, the first female mayor of a major Moroccan
city. Mansouri expressed her enthusiasm for meeting
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and underscored
the symbolic importance this can represent for
women's political participation in Morocco. Mansouri
believed that hosting the meeting at the City Hall
would be highly symbolic for Morocco's
democratization process.


3. (SBU) Turning to politics, Mansouri expressed her
optimism and confidence in the choices the PAM made
to consolidate Morocco's democratization process.
She explained that the PAM's intentions are to hoist
the political field upwards by practicing good
governance. Mansouri conceded that the PAM attracted
many opportunists because its founder, Fouad Ali El
Himma, is a tremendously able politician and a close
friend of the King. However, Mansouri explained that
although a new party cannot be too selective
regarding its adherents, it can chose to be selective
in identifying leaders on the basis of merit. In
this regard, she cited the fact that 80 percent of
the PAM candidates who won office in June's communal
elections were all first-time political participants
who ran and won based on their new ideas and their
merits. In addition, she gave the example of PAM
party members who won election but were subsequently
removed from office because it was discovered that
they had accepted campaign contributions from known
narcotics traffickers. In these cases, the PAM often
had to give up a seat on a communal council, but the
party felt it more important to lose a seat that to
permit a corrupt party member to occupy it.

--------------------------------------------- ----
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4. (SBU) The animosity between the PAM and the
Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD) is
well known (reftel) on the national level. However,
Mansouri explained that there are actually some
similarities between the PJD and the PAM and that, on
the Marrakesh level, their cooperation is actually
quite good. Like the PAM, the PJD embraces the
principles of good governance, anti-corruption and
transparency, she said. In addition, both parties
are internally democratic and seek to reward
initiative. Finally, Mansouri suggested, the PJD is
the only other major party that has not yet held
office and governed extensively. In this regard,
however, there is a big difference: The PJD -- in
large part through explicit PAM efforts -- does not
currently control a single major city council in
Morocco, whereas the PAM controls several as a result
of the June elections. Therefore, unlike the PJD,
the PAM now has the opportunity to put its governance
vision into action over the next five years.

5. (SBU) And in this regard, Mansouri is clearly
eager to set a strong example. She explained that
her biggest challenge for Marrakesh is to eliminate

the slums on the city's peripheries and to provide
the population with decent living conditions. These
improvements are not only something the citizens
deserve, she stressed, but also critical to
maintaining and strengthening social cohesion. She
has also embarked on a personal effort to encourage
all city council members -- not just PAM party
members -- to engage with their constituencies; to
seek out ways to deliver services to them and improve
the city; and to proactively root out corruption and

6. (SBU) Mansouri admitted that this last goal -- in
short, to hold elected officials responsible for
actually governing, rather than simply "holding
office" -- has created some tremors within the
council, especially among long-entrenched politicians
who are not accustomed to working hard at anything
except getting re-elected. However, she also said
that many have embraced her new approach. She has
received enormous support from both public and
private institutions and from other political
parties. Even her cooperation with the PJD -- the
PAM's arch rival -- has been positive, she said;
local PJD officials have shown a willingness to work
with her, and the national Secretary General of the
PJD, Abdelilah Benkirane, commended her after her
election, she said. She explained that no one wants
to see the first big-city woman mayor fail.


7. (SBU) Capable and ambitious, Mansouri clearly
represents the type of political leader the PAM wants
at the forefront in its ascendency. She clearly
understands that much of Morocco will be watching her
successes and failures, not only because she is the
first woman mayor of a major city, but also as a
leading indicator of whether the PAM can live up to
its stated promises to govern competently and to
bring governance closer to the people.

8. (SBU) Mayor Mansouri is the granddaughter of a
former Pasha, a prominent local official, from
Marrakesh. The family connections reportedly played
an important role in Mansouri's election. Now, her
family is once again administering Marrakesh -- but
with the people's blessing. END COMMENT.


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