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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05RABAT2605 2005-12-30 16:38:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Rabat
Cable title:  

PARLIAMENT: SOME MP'S GROUSE ABOUT PRESSURE TO

Tags:   PREL PGOV ETRD ECON KIPR MO 
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1. (C) While the U.S. Mission is extremely pleased with the
December 16 passage by the Moroccan parliament of the
remaining provisions of FTA-related legislation (reftels),
several members of the Moroccan Parliament's (MP) lower house
(Chamber of Representatives) have expressed privately their
frustration with the intense pressure placed on parliament by
the Moroccan Government (GOM) to push through the
legislation. Speaking at a dinner on December 16 hosted by
MP Ahmed Zarouf (Popular Movement), former Minister of Human
Rights Mohamed Auajjar (National Rally of Independents)
complained to Poloff that the GOM gave the lower house's
Foreign Affairs and National Defense committee just 24 hours
to consider the copyright law. Zarouf, Auajjar's fellow
member on the Foreign Affairs and National Defense committee,
shared Auajjar's frustrations, but as host of the dinner was
less willing to be drawn out. (NB: the patent/trademark bill
was deliberated in the lower house's Productive Sectors
committee.)



2. (C) Auajjar stated that the government's handling of the
bill reflects a lack of respect for parliament and its role
in the legislative process. "We were taken for nobodies," he
commented. Auajjar lamented that democracy was the big loser
in the process. Taking it a step further, he argued that the
U.S. shares the blame because of the pressure it placed on
the GOM to ensure swift passage. "What is the Moroccan
market for the U.S. economy?," he asked. By putting its
national economic interests above its support for the
democratic process, he charged, the U.S. adopted a double
standard and provided fodder to the fundamentalists who
oppose the country's democratic opening. There is no reason
why these bills, out of respect for the democratic process,
he argued, could not have waited until July 2006 to be passed.



3. (C) Poloff responded that the GOM had ample time to
prepare the legislation to allow parliament a sufficient
window for deliberating the bills. Auajjar slowly relented
and said that he was aware that by pushing the Moroccan
government the Embassy was just doing its job. "Our
government failed us though," he conceded. Poloff asked why
the GOM delayed so long in submitting the legislation to
parliament. "Because the King did not convene the Council of
Ministers earlier," Auajjar responded.



4. (SBU) More vocally than other parties, the Islamist Party
for Justice and Development (PJD) also seized on the FTA to
direct criticism at the Moroccan government for kow-towing to
U.S. pressure. On December 15, the party's newspaper
Attajdid carried an article in which Abdelkader Amara, member
of the PJD's general secretariat, criticized the government
for not giving parliament sufficient time to debate the
copyright bill. Amara accused the government of not taking
the parliament seriously and of caving in to U.S. pressure to
pass the law by the January 1, 2006 deadline. The party
published on its website the 35 amendments it put forward in
committee, noted that they were never considered, and invited
citizens to review them to see for themselves that the law,
in the party's view, does not favor Moroccan interests. On
December 21, the party announced it would sue Moroccan
television station TVM for its "biased" coverage in its
December 16 newscasts, which made no mention of the party's
amendments, according to Moroccan press reports. On December
22, the PJD vowed that, henceforth, its MPs will wear arm
bands during parliamentary sessions in protest of the lack of
seriousness with which the parliament is treated, according
to press reports.

Comment


--------------------------





5. (C) The government should be applauded for meeting the
deadline for bringing its intellectual property regime into
compliance with the terms of the FTA, but it is unfortunate
that it waited so long to submit the necessary implementing
legislation to parliament, thereby providing less than
satisfactory time for parliamentarians to review the
legislation. While parliamentary frustration is to a certain
extent justified, there are numerous other instances in which
the Moroccan parliament does not assert its prerogatives,
thereby perpetuating a widely held view that the parliament
does not really matter in Morocco. It is precisely this kind
of problem that U.S.-funded parliamentary strengthening

programs are designed to confront. While the MPs' criticisms
are directed mostly toward what they believe is the GOM's
lack of respect for parliament, because the concerns stem
from FTA-related legislation, the U.S., by association, has
also come under some fire. The episode, as Auajjar suggests,
has provided fuel to FTA detractors and those quick to
criticize the U.S. The PJD especially, which abstained in
parliament's January 2005 vote on the FTA, has seized on the
issue. Taking advantage of the episode to frame itself as
the lone defender of Moroccan interests and the only party
seeking a government that is more accountable and
transparent, the PJD strikes us as a party whose sights are
squarely on the 2007 parliamentary elections.



6. (C) It is also worth pondering what the parliament would
have done with the legislation had it had more time to
consider it: alter the pre-negotiated working of the laws?
Risk delaying or canceling the FTA by debating the pros and
cons of copyright? In a way the parliament is off the hook
if the FTA fails "to deliver" but can still claim credit for
its successes. Moreover, parliament's earlier handling of
the FTA legislation committed them to these legal adoptions.
END COMMENT.
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Riley