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Transition Time in Morocco
Special Contribution
By Ahmed Bourzaim
Moroccan Ambassador to Seoul
Ahmed Bourzaim Moroccan Ambassador to Seoul

The following article is contributed by Moroccan Ambassador to Seoul Ahmed Bourzaim on the occasion of its National Day "Throne Day."

On the occasion of the celebration of the Throne Day, which marks this year the seventh anniversary of the enthronement of His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco, It gives me a great pleasure to convey my sincere gratitude to "The Seoul Times" for giving me the opportunity to address its readers.

I also would like to seize this opportunity to express on behalf of the Kingdom of Morocco my best wishes for everlasting peace, continued progress and prosperity for the Republic of Korea ant its friendly people.

Since the enthronement of His Majesty King Mohammed VI on July, 30th 1999, Morocco has been engaging in many socio-economic reforms aimed at ensuring further development and democratization for the Moroccan people.

The reforms so far introduced in various aspects of political, economic, social and most importantly religious matters, are tantamount to a quiet and peaceful revolution welcomed by all fringes of society and encouraged by the international community.

HM King Mohammed VI of Morocco

With regards to democratization, all the initiatives taken and projects implemented translate Morocco's will to strengthen the rule of law, break definitively with the practices of the past and found the culture of human rights with a view to succeeding in the democratic transition process.

Indeed, Morocco has committed itself to reinforcing human rights since the early 1990s under the reign of HM Late King Hassan II, the corner stone being set in 1990 with the institution of the Advisory Council of Human Rights followed by the creation of a Ministry in charge of human rights in 1993. After the accession of HM King Mohammed VI to the Throne, a cruising speed has been adopted in this regard through carrying out great projects so as to assure the protection of human rights and spread the culture of dialogue.

The founding of "The Equity and Reconciliation Commission," a pioneer initiative in the Arab and Islamic worlds, was a huge step in the reconciliation of Morocco with itself, and part of the current Moroccan democratic transition. It was destined to identify past human rights abuses, compensate victims and propose new rules to correct legal loopholes to ensure that these breaches are not repeated in the future. Thanks to this initiative, victims of past human rights violations were given the opportunity to exorcise their pain via hearings broadcast live by the national radio and television.

The setting up of Diwane Al Madalim springs also from the concern to strengthen the rule of law. This institution, whose roots extend to the ancient traditions of the Kingdom and Islam, stands as a referee between citizens and the administration. It has set up among other objectives fighting against corruption and misuse of power, making up for injustices and preserving people's rights.

Solidarity is another way conceived by His Majesty the King aiming at promoting human rights. Major actions initiated by the Sovereign focused on the right for the disabled and the poor to lead a decent life. Are significant in this respect, the efforts carried out by "Mohammed V Foundation" for Solidarity.

Different policies supervised by the King and targeting the children were taken in order to grant them a better status either within the family code or by actions carried out by the National Institute of the rights of Children (ONDE).

The "National Initiative for Human Development" launched by King Mohammed VI, in his address to the Nation on May 18th 2005 is yet another landmark initiative as it defines a large-scale programme meant to speed up socio-economic development in general and in particular help to reintegrate the most marginalized fringes of society in the production fabric and thus alleviate poverty, a scourge at the heart of international concerns. It also seeks to foster solidarity in order to make up for social shortcomings and fight regional disparities, as well as all forms of exclusion.

The adoption of a new Family Code, whose broad lines were announced by HM King Mohammed VI in his speech before Parliament on October 6, 2003, is considered by many observers as a real political and historical revolution. The code establishes new relations at the level of the family based upon equity and equality between husband and wife.

It is worthwhile noting that, under the new code, marriage procedure has been simplified for Moroccans living abroad. Accordingly, it would be enough to establish the marriage certificate in front of two Muslim witnesses in accordance with the procedures in force in host countries, and then register it in the Moroccan consular or judicial services.

Another great reform that a large number of Moroccans and their children have been so long waiting for was voiced by HM King Mohammed VI in the Throne day speech of July 30, 2005. The Royal Decision enables children born to a Moroccan mother and foreign father to be granted the Moroccan nationality.

The reform of the nationality code comes to strengthen the family code by granting to children born to a Moroccan mother the right to live as a full Moroccan and to their mother a feeling of security. It is a reform that comes within the framework of the conformity of the Moroccan legislation to the various international conventions ratified by Morocco, and in particular, those relating to the rights of children and the elimination of any forms of discrimination against women.

Door of Royal Palace in Marrakesh, Morocco

The reforms initiated by His Majesty the King include also the electoral legislation which brought down to 18 years the voting age for both men and women and enables positive discrimination in favour of women through the institution of a national women's list to ensure a minimum 10% quota in parliament.

The penal code was also positively affected by various changes aiming at enhancing guarantees for equitable legal proceedings, and adopting legislation that penalizes torture.

The adoption of a new Labour Code was intended to make Moroccan legislation meet international agreements, increase work flexibility, and simplify and modernize the labour law. The main provisions provide for reducing the workweek from 48 to 44 hours, improving the measures of safety, hygiene and factory inspection, creating the Council of Collective Negotiation as well as improving the management of social conflicts through the institution of the compulsory conciliation by appropriate organs.

On another front and to overcome health system dysfunctions, improve the health conditions of citizens and assure equality in the access to medical care, the Moroccan authorities, following the orientations of His Majesty the King, have carried out a great reform project concerning medical cover and health financing. The reform process began with the adoption of the code of the basic medical cover. Later, the publication of the decree relating to the National Agency of Health Insurance and that relating to the National Fund Administration Council of the Provident Fund Bodies came to strengthen this reform.

The reform of the Moroccan audio-visual system, which had for a long time been one of the governmental priorities, has been realized with the new law on the audio-visual communication unanimously adopted recently by the Parliament. The change has enabled the creation of new radio and television channels and thus, will enrich the cultural and educational landscape in Morocco.

In the housing sector, a great project has been launched in order to eradicate slums, offer accommodations to the most deprived according to their means and overcome problems caused by old dwellings. In fact, and on many occasions, the Monarch has been warning against the threat of the proliferation of unhealthy housing and urged to adopt a national program of fight against this phenomenon. In order to insure a decent accommodation for a large number of Moroccans, the program is currently underway and aims at constructing 100 000 units per year.

On the economic front, and under the guidance of His Majesty the King, Morocco has been resolutely engaged in a policy which seeks to make foreign investment a strategic support of the economic and social growth. The Moroccan government has continuously strived to improve the attractiveness of the Kingdom through the implementation of new economic, institutional, legislative and legal measures.

In the tourism sector, the Royal speech pronounced at the first conference on tourism on January 10th 2001 in Marrakech, represents the founding act of the new tourism strategy which aims at reaching 10 million tourists by 2010. In this regard, a contract-program concerning the sector of tourism was jointly elaborated by the private operators of the sector and the authorities and aimed to build new infrastructures and reorganize the tourism sector.

"The Azur plan" is a part of this large programme which has as main objective boosting the tourism industry in the country. The plan aims at constructing 6 major resorts and marinas at various locations spread over two oceans.

With regards to transport infrastructures, a vast program of modernization has been carried out aiming at equipping the country with motor-highways network with a view to keep abreast with the country's economic and social development.

As far as the railroad system is concerned, and within the framework of the economic plan of development in this sector, the objective was to carry tonnage, thanks to the acquisition of about one hundred new coaches. Other great projects are scheduled in the medium term and will concern the major Moroccan cities, which will be equipped with a network of modern stations.

The Moroccan Airport Authority (ONDA) also has its ambitious development plan for the years to come and aims at preparing the air transport sector for the changes and challenges to take up during the next years. This plan lies within the framework of the national objective of 10 million tourists by 2010.

In January 2006, King Mohammed VI launched USD 1.08 Billion worth project aiming at developing the "Bouregreg" valley that separates the capital Rabat from its twin city Salé. The project will be funded by Hassan II Fund for Economic and Social Development, the "Office National d'Eau Potable," REDAL, local collectivities and private investors.

Thus, this project has brought until now USD 2.2Bn private investments, in addition to the USD 1Bn allocated by the government. The project, to be carried out in ten years, extends in a vast area of over 4000 hectares, and will be implemented by the "Bouregreg Valley Development Agency."

The project is dedicated in its first phase to rehabilitating the valley and protecting it from floods. As parts of this project, numerous infrastructures will be built including a marina, a wharf, terraced gardens, a cultural park, malls and a tramline linking Rabat and Salé.

In addition to these projects, the future commercial Port of Tangier-Mediterranean is expected to win, when it becomes operative in 2007, a prominent position similar to that of international ports. It will rebalance the flow of exchanges and therefore release the Casablanca port, instigate the northern economic tissue of the country thanks to a specific activity of transshipment.

Last but not least, Morocco has opted for the liberalization of the telecommunications which, consequently, resulted in an exceptional takeoff of the sector since the 90's and allowed the reinforcement of the landscape with the arrival of new mobile and home phones operators.

These were, some of the achievements in the last few years. Such outcome enabled Morocco to win a better position within the concert of nations as a trustworthy partner and allowed the Moroccan people to confront the new challenges of globalization from a favourable position.






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