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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06RABAT1951 2006-10-18 19:12:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Rabat
Cable title:  

KING'S OPENING SPEECH TO PARLIAMENT FOCUSES ON

Tags:   PGOV PBTS PREL PHUM ECON MO 
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1. (C) Summary: In his annual speech to open parliament's
fall session, King Mohamed VI on October 13 highlighted both
his commitment to reform and determination to maintain
overall control. He said next year's legislative elections
must be open, transparent, and legitimate. He said the 2007
lower house elections must not have the same taint of
corruption as the recent upper house elections, a point
underscored by the exclusion from the speech of 17 members of
parliament, under investigation for allegations of fraud and
corruption. The King offered no tangible initiatives,
however, and even neglected to mention the pending electoral
law. The King also highlighted GOM efforts to reach a
"consensual and final political solution" on the Western
Sahara. The King's emphasis on transparency provides a good
opening for the Mission's transformational diplomacy efforts
to support democracy and free and fair elections in Morocco.
End Summary.



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King Reaffirms Commitment to Reforms


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





2. (SBU) Continuing the tradition of previous speeches
inaugurating the fall session of parliament, King Mohamed VI
used this opportunity before his legislative branch on
October 13 to review key Moroccan accomplishments and lay out
the framework for parliament's upcoming legislative year.
The King highlighted Morocco's recent achievements, including
the adoption of the Family Code, the work of the Equity and
Reconciliation Commission (IER), and an expansion of civil
liberties. (Note: However, with no major reform achievements
during the past year, the King was left to review dated
reforms. End Note.)



3. (U) The King underscored his simultaneous determination
to promote reform, but at the same time, still remain in
charge, explaining that Morocco will "forge ahead with this
irreversible, democratic approach, especially as the nation
is steadfastly committed to the fundamental, immutable
pledges of which I am the guarantor, and which are not
affected by transient events, or shifts in majority." He
also claimed that Morocco has "become a model in the area of
democratic development."



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


King Calls for Open and Transparent Elections


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





4. (U) The King's message was strong and tightly focused,
urging "all concerned stakeholders" to secure the electoral
process "against any illegal use of money or power." The
King called on political parties to be particularly vigilant
in preventing fraud or corruption related to next year's
lower house elections, and to abstain from vote buying and
illegal influencing. Additionally, the King directed the
government to provide a political atmosphere conducive to
free and fair elections.



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


King Leaves Out Reference to Electoral Code


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





5. (SBU) Unlike last year's speech (ref A), where the King
charged his government to adopt an electoral code one year
before the election date, and widespread speculation that it
would play a dominant role in this year's speech, the King
made only veiled references to the code. He pushed Morocco's
numerous political parties to consolidate, as would the
proposed percentage threshold in the electoral code. He said
political parties should forge alliances that will "support
the emergence of a coherent majority and a constructive
opposition."



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


Democracy and Development, Hand-in-Hand


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






6. (SBU) The King pointed to the National Human Development
Initiative (INDH), linking its aim for progress on curbing
poverty to the strengthening of democratic principles, and
called for increased citizen's participation in all aspects
of the political process. However, he cautioned that there
is "no ready-made recipe for true democracy," which must be
"built gradually, by stages."



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



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


Western Sahara: Guaranteeing Territorial Integrity


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



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





7. (U) Briefly touching on the Western Sahara, the King
linked Morocco's past reform efforts to movement towards an
autonomy plan that guarantees national unity and territorial
integrity. Explaining his government efforts "to ensure
large national participation and create strong local support
in the development of an autonomy plan," the King said
autonomy would bring a "consensual and final political
solution, " within the framework of Moroccan sovereignty, to
this "artificial dispute over the Moroccanness of those
provinces."



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



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17 Members of Parliament Excluded for Alleged Corruption


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



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





8. (U) While parliament was filled to its capacity, 17
members of parliament (MPs) were notably absent from the
opening ceremony. 12 members of the House of Councilors
(upper house) and 5 members of the House of Representatives
(lower house), who are under investigation for alleged
involvement in fraud and corruption related to last month's
upper house elections (ref B), were prohibited from attending
parliament's opening session by Moroccan authorities. On
October 13, the 17 MPs were ordered to appear in court at the
same time the King delivered his speech to parliament,
according to several Moroccan media outlets. A total of 67
individuals, including members of parliament, civil servants,
members of the private sector, and local representatives, are
under investigation for fraud and corruption related to the
upper house elections on September 8 (ref B), according to an
October 12 Ministry of Justice communique.



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


Comment


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





9. (C) The King's speech has been well received by both
majority and opposition political parties, and the media,
which cited his message that the 2007 elections should be
open and transparent. The King has undoubtedly raised the
stakes in his anti-corruption campaign. The expulsion of 17
parliamentarians and investigations into 50 other individuals
for fraud is a sign that the taint of corruption on last
month's upper house elections will not be tolerated. The
King, in effect, has put the ball in the court of voters,
political parties, and the government to produce successful
and legitimate elections. The King's emphasis on transparent
and legitimate elections may offer a good opening for the
Mission's transformational diplomacy efforts to support
Morocco's democratic evolution through a free and fair
electoral process.

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