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06RABAT662 2006-04-13 16:50:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Rabat
Cable title:  

AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH SOCIALIST UNION OF POPULAR

Tags:   PGOV PREL MO 
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1. (C) SUMMARY AND INTRODUCTION: The Ambassador met April 3
with for an hour with Socialist Union of Popular Forces
(USFP) party leader and Minister of Territory Development,
Water, and Environment Mohamed El Yazghi at the recently
completed USFP party headquarters in Rabat. The Ambassador
was accompanied by Poloff (notetaker), while El Yazghi hosted
the Ambassador alone. This is the second in a round of calls
the Ambassador is making on political party leaders to
discuss party proposals for a Western Sahara autonomy plan,
the impact of the recently passed political party law, and
party plans for the 2007 legislative elections. Discussing
the USFP's joint autonomy proposal done in conjunction with
the Istiqlal Party and the Socialism and Progress Party, El
Yazghi explained that this is the "first phase" of the
process and a "grand reform" like this, that will completely
change the structures of the state, will take time. He also
explained that USFP believes this could be the last chance to
solve this problem, rhetorically asking, "what do you do
after this?" El Yazghi also asked the Ambassador that the
U.S., because of its relationship with Algeria, encourage
Algeria to help solve the Western Sahara issue. On the
recently passed political party law, El Yazghi believed this
is "a very good thing," adding that USFP has recently adopted
measures within the party to comply with the law. According
to El Yazghi, the 2007 legislative elections are on the minds
of the USFP and the party has been preparing internally
following the last party congress in June 2005. END SUMMARY
AND INTRODUCTION.

Autonomy Plan: USFP Supports The King's Efforts


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

--



2. (C) Responding to the Ambassador's question, El Yazghi
explained that the USFP, in conjunction with the Istiqlal
Party (PI) and the Socialism and Progress Party (PPS),
submitted a joint memorandum on autonomy to the Palace in
accordance with the April 1, 2006 deadline. El Yazghi,
however, was quick to point out that this is merely the
"first phase" of the process, because in the end all the
structures of the state will change, adding a "grand reform"
like this will take time. He noted that the USFP joint
proposal on autonomy supported principles King Mohamed VI has
laid out for the territory, but that the proposal was not
heavy on details. On this note, El Yazghi assured the
Ambassador that when the time is right for details, USFP will
be there to provide them. Commenting on the likelihood of a
final solution to the Western Sahara, El Yazghi explained
that the USFP assesses this could be "perhaps" the last
chance for the international community to solve this issue.
Asking rhetorically, "what do you do after this?" he pointed
out that even after years of hard work the UN has not been
able to reach a solution.



3. (C) Commenting on the economic challenges that face the
Western Sahara, El Yazghi stressed that the GOM has and
continues to make efforts to improve the economic situation
by building schools, airports, roads, and other
infrastructure. The government is providing the base that
will allow development, he said. Noting that the territory's
most profitable sector was "from the sea," El Yazghi
underscored that there is economic potential for the Western
Sahara. This area is "special" because of its location near
the Atlantic ocean and rich soil, and, as a result of the
recent rains, many parts of the Western Sahara are lush. In
his view, this region has particular potential in
agriculture, especially as technologies quickly evolve,
explained El Yazghi. He made special reference to the small
wind energy station located in Tan Tan, highlighting that the
local desalinization plant is powered by the wind energy
station. El Yazghi acknowledged that Morocco is a country
with modest means, i.e. no proven oil reserves, and is
effective with the resources it has, but if oil were
discovered tomorrow Morocco would welcome this possibility.



4. (C) El Yazghi also used this meeting with the Ambassador
as an opportunity to deliver a point on the Western Sahara.
Noting the close relationship between the U.S. and Morocco,
he acknowledged the U.S. relationship with Algeria, and asked

that the U.S. encourage Algeria to help resolve the issue of
the Western Sahara. El Yazghi underscored that it is in both
the interest of Algeria and Morocco to have a final solution,
and it is unfortunate that this issue has impeded progress
on several fronts in the region, particularly among the
Maghreb countries. The Ambassador agreed, and stressed that
the U.S. supports a negotiated solution that involves all
parties. El Yazghi explained, "Morocco will never accept
independence," adding that a solution that included
independence would be a "failure." Replying to the
Ambassador's query about the closed border, El Yazghi
explained that this problem exists because of Algeria; "the
borders are closed from the Algerian side, not by Morocco."
He said this is an example of the "absence of democracy" in
Algeria because a country with democracy would not
arbitrarily close its border. He argued that the main reason
why Algeria will not open the border is that they are scared
Algerians will visit Morocco and "see how we live." Further
demonstrating the differences he sees between Morocco and
Algeria, he noted that Algeria has spent 9 billion dollars
purchasing arms from Russia, while at the same time Morocco
has attract 9 billion dollars in investment. El Yazghi
closed the discussion on the Western Sahara by saying, "the
USFP supports the King's efforts because of the courage he
has shown engaging this tough issue."

New Political Party Law: "A Very Good Thing"


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





5. (C) According to El Yazghi, the recently passed
political party law is "a very good thing" and is "absolutely
going to change things." He said that Morocco cannot have
democracy without strong political parties, and this new law
will increase the transparency of political parties, thus
making them stronger and more accountable entities. El
Yazghi pointed out that the USFP adopted a decree March 30
within the USFP structure that assures USFP's conformity with
the political party law. On the new 5 percent threshold, El
Yazghi said there will undoubtedly be a regrouping of
political parties, hinting that the USFP could benefit from
this likely phenomenon by absorbing smaller political
parties. He noted that USFP has already "integrated"
members, a reference to the December 2005 absorption of the
Democratic Socialist Party (PSD), and the resulting
acquisition of PSD's four lower house seats. El Yazghi also
briefly discussed the USFP's preparations for a regional
congress that will be held in Agadir April 14.

USFP Preparing For 2007 Elections


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





6. (C) El Yazghi confirmed that the 2007 legislative are
well on the minds of the USFP, and have been for some time.
In fact, starting at the last USFP party congress, held in
June 2005, the USFP began preparing for the 2007 elections,
according to El Yazghi. The USFP, working with its Koutla,
or national democratic bloc, partners (Istiqlal and PPS) is
looking to herd together loosely linked political parties
under a common theme, in an effort to produce a strong
political force for 2007.



7. (C) While on the topic of the 2007 election, El Yazghi
raised the recent International Republican Institute (IRI)
poll that appeared in the March 18 issue of Moroccan
French-language weekly Le Journal and expressed his concerns
about its veracity and the resulting image this can produce.
Despite expressing reservations about the validity of the
poll results because he was not fully aware of how
respondents were chosen, El Yazghi highlighted that the poll
showed respondents believed that the USFP is the political
party who can change things. El Yazghi, however, highlighted
that as a result of this poll, Morocco may misconstrue the
findings as implicit support by the U.S., and the Republican
party in particular, for the Party for Justice and
Development (PJD) to win the 2007 elections. After
explaining that the poll was meant to be an internal IRI
document and not published in the press, the Ambassador
stressed that it is necessary to have well structured
political parties that are able to meet the needs of its
constituents.
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Riley