|06RABAT1414||2006-07-26 12:39:00||CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN||Embassy Rabat|
1. (C) Summary: On July 24, Ambassador met with Chakib
Benmoussa, the Minister of the Interior for an exchange of
views on current issues, including the electoral code under
consideration, GOM action vis-a-vis the Justice and Charity
Organization (JCO; reftels B, C) and liaison with the Mission
on human rights issues. The Ambassador expressed his
appreciation for the meeting and the open dialogue between
the Mission and the MOI. In discussing the electoral code,
Benmoussa emphasized that the code is a transparent process
in which many of the political actors have participated. He
believes the development of this process is essential to the
enhancement of democracy in Morocco. While positive about
the democratic process, Benmoussa was clear that the JCO is
mixing religion and politics and is attempting to manipulate
the international scene to change the internal political
landscape. End Summary.
2. (C) Ambassador, accompanied by A/Polcouns, met with
Chakib Benmoussa, Minister of the Interior, to discuss
current issues including the proposed new electoral code and
the JCO. Benmoussa was joined by Mohieddin Amzazi, Governor
of the Ministry, and Rachid Rguibi, Governor and Director of
The Electoral Code
3. (C) The electoral code is a current topic of discussion
in both the French and Arabic language press, and critical to
eventual fair conduct of the 2007 parliamentary elections.
The Ambassador sought clarity on the electoral law,
specifically on the thresholds that would be established for
parties to present candidates in the 2007 elections.
Benmoussa stressed that Morocco is "moving towards democracy"
and that it is impossible to change everything at once.
Whether or not the final decision will be that parties must
have 3 percent or 7 percent of the total vote to participate
did not concern Benmoussa. The important point for him is
that a process is underway: the parties have choices before
them and they must develop strategies.
4. (C) For Benmoussa, the parliament is in the midst of an
institutional process which is normal. Parliament will
eventually "crystallize" the process. If all are involved,
e.g., the parties, parliament, and the media, then everyone's
point of view is incorporated, according to Benmoussa. Small
parties cannot continue to exist in his view, as parliament
will not have a majority. Stability is important to
Benmoussa and the merging of small parties will improve the
democratic process and assist with the GOM's financing of the
parties. When the Ambassador discussed the "democratic
process," Benmoussa pointed out that, in the past, the MOI
made decisions in a closed room with the parties. Today,
according to Benmoussa, there is no limit to the discussions
-- these are open and inclusive.
5. (C) Ambassador asked Benmoussa about the recent strong
GOM reactions to the JCO "open doors" and meetings. (Note:
The "open doors" and meetings are being closed by GOM
security forces; attendees and members have been detained;
one leader, Mohamed Abadi, is scheduled to go on trial in
September, reftels B, C. End Note.) Benmoussa responded
that the JCO is an association supposedly involved in
religious education, but it is now engaged in political
activities. Mixing religion and politics is not acceptable
to the MOI. Benmoussa characterized the JCO as "not
respecting" institutions, the law and regulations.
6. (C) The Ambassador pointed out that Nadia Yassine's
recent trip to the US to speak at universities, e.g.,
University of California/Berkeley and Harvard, had been
private; invitations were not sponsored by the U.S.
government. In response, Benmoussa discussed the internal
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and external nature of the JCO. Its members are using means
available to them in other countries to establish
organizations to put pressure on the internal political
situation in Morocco, he said (reftel C). The JCO argues,
Benmoussa said, that it is a "victim" of discrimination in
Morocco, rallies expatriate Moroccans and others to its
cause, and tries to apply pressure to the GOM through these
groups and individuals.
7. (C) The Ambassador and Benmoussa also talked about the
importance of the recent conference Benmoussa attended in
Spain and the recent Migration Conference held in Rabat
(reftel D). Benmoussa pointed out that both conferences were
significant in that they highlighted Morocco's important role
in regional stability and its willingness to cooperate with
Europe and the rest of Africa on the important issues of
counter terrorism in the Sahel region and migration. The
Ambassador stated that it was disappointing that Algeria did
not participate in the Migration Conference. Benmoussa
echoed this thought and pointed to the importance of looking
at regional issues from a cooperative standpoint.
8. (C) The Ambassador also noted that the Embassy sought a
continuing dialogue with the GOM on human rights, as they had
discussed shortly after Benmoussa's appointment as Minister.
The Ambassador asked Benmoussa to identify a liaison on this
issue. Obviously pleased with the opportunity Benmoussa
assigned Mohieddin Amzazi, Governor, on the spot to this role.
9. (C) Benmoussa frankly discussed his understanding of the
democratic process in Morocco. For him, Morocco is moving
towards democracy and the population must have confidence in
the steps which are being taken by the GOM. The electoral
discussion is a positive contribution to the process.
Benmoussa clearly sees the JCO as being part of an
evolutionary Islamist movement taking place throughout the
region. It cannot, however, mix religion and politics, nor
can it ignore the country's laws -- for Benmoussa, the JCO
has overstepped its boundaries.
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