الأحد 2 أغسطس 20090المشاهدات :13885Abdelhakim Khirane
Rabat – Morocco has, over the past years, embarked on a broad-based process of sweeping, comprehensive reforms and a flurry of large-scale development projects, which ushered in a new era under the reign of His Majesty King Mohammed VI. Ever since his accession to the throne in 1999, the sovereign has consistently voiced firm resolve to press ahead with this comprehensive reform process and see through the various projects initiated in different areas. The King put social justice, the improvement of the citizens’ living conditions and the promotion of full-fledged citizenship atop priorities to fight all manifestations of poverty and social exclusion.In all these endeavours, the monarch is keeping track of the projects under way, based on a field monitoring approach to check on their smooth running. Diverse reforms towards ambitious objectives The monarch’s social action has materialized through a multitude of reforms, initiatives and projects aimed at accomplishing such important objectives as upgrading the national education system, overhauling the health regime, broadening the scope of medical insurance, facilitating access to housing and achieving human development. In the midst of comprehensive reforms and wide-ranging programmes, the monarch launched, back in mid-2005, an ambitious social project “the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH)”. The INDH, which is part of a strategic vision to achieve development, sought primarily to address poverty in rural areas and combat social exclusion in urban areas. Four years on from its launch, the project has benefited over 4 million people, with 16,100 projects programmed, worth 9.4 billion dirhams. Given its far-reaching goals, the INDH has been widely supported internationally. Several countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Belgium, France, Germany and the United States, as well as international organisations (the World Bank, the European Union and Global Partnership on Output Based Aid “GPOBA”), have committed themselves to financially supporting the initiative. In this connection, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia donated 50 million dollars in support of the initiative during his official visit to the kingdom in 2007. Three years after his enthronement, the king launched the mega Tangier-Med project which is geared towards enhancing the north’s development and opening up new prospects toward Europe and the rest of the world. The Internationally-oriented complex, located in the crossroads of major sea routes, targets a close market of as many as 600 million people including West Europe, North Africa and North America. In view of the prospects of success the project holds, it has been decided to expand the complex by building another port “Tangier-Med II”, which is bound to become an important platform at the international level. It will eventually enable to ship more than 8 million containers and transport 7 million passengers, 3 million vehicles and 10 million tonnes of hydrocarbons annually. Building on the logistic competitiveness created by the complex, a vast industrial platform is being developed in the region. The first fruits reaped from this mega project was the setting up of a car assembly plant in the area. The Renault plant is expected to start production in early 2012 with a pace of 170,000 cars yearly to ultimately reach 400,000 cars a year, thus becoming the most important car assembly plant of Renault in the Mediterranean region. At the social level, the plant is expected to generate beneficial results as it will provide 4,000 direct and 24,000 indirect jobs. In the same vein, King Mohammed VI, aware that Morocco has all the ingredients of a privileged tourist destination, launched in 2001 an ambitious strategy called “Vision 2010” which is designed to attract 10 million tourists by the year 2010. The strategy has spurred significant investments towards the sector, generating a great many jobs. Consequently, the sector has become a true engine of socio-economic development. Moreover, the sector’s contribution to the Kingdom’s GDP is forecast to amount to 20 pc. The results of the strategy achieved so far hold much promise for the sector, with 7.9 million tourists having visited the Kingdom in 2008; that is, an increase of a robust 7 pc on the previous year. In the field of media, the scope of the freedom of press has significantly broadened, with journalists increasingly addressing subjects that were deemed ‘taboos’. The print press has witnessed the emergence of a large number of new titles, together with the liberalization of the audiovisual sector in May 2006, which gave rise to a notable increase in the number of TV channels and radio stations. With the same will to carry out reforms, the monarch formed an “Equity and Reconciliation Commission” in 2004 to turn the page on the past human rights abuses of what is commonly known as “the years of lead”. The commission sought out-of-court settlement of human rights abuses committed between 1956 and 1999 and identified the victims of those abuses who were compensated accordingly. Religious domain, women’s status, major concerns As part of this comprehensive reform project, the monarch has attached utmost importance to the religious sphere by initiating far-reaching reforms covering the different institutions dealing with religious affairs. The reforms’ ultimate objective was to secure the citizen’s spiritual security both in Morocco and abroad, and promote religious institutions’ supervision and doctrinal unity. The reforms include the upgrading of the Ulema (religious scholars) Council and the retraining of Imams (prayer leaders) to ensure that their academic background and their performance in the fields of education and counselling in religious matters, social conduct and pious behaviour, are upgraded. In this respect, the king had last year launched the Ulema’s charter under which the imams will be trained and supervised by the best Ulema – men and women alike – to redefine the mission assigned to the mosque as a place of guidance and counselling and upgrade the role it should play in providing education and enlightenment. The reforms also paid close attention to grooming women to be effective stakeholders in the various aspects of life. In this connection, a number of women counsellors, preachers and supervisors were trained to upgrade family life, improve women’s environment, counsel young girls and instill in them a sense of patriotism along with a strong commitment to Islam’s tolerant ideals and immutable tenets. Out of deep belief that women can play a major role and offer substantial services to advance their society, a ground-breaking reform was introduced to family life through the new Family Law (Moudawana) which enhanced the status of women as full-fledged members of a just society, enjoying their rights and playing their part in the development endeavour launched by the country. In this regard, the monarch announced in December 2008, on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that Morocco is withdrawing its reservations concerning the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, thus recognizing the whole range of their rights and roles. The Family Law was the culmination of a community-based debate which laid fresh foundations to set up balanced social relations, based on gender equality and the protection of children. The Law was geared towards guaranteeing for each member of the family life their rights and obligations, in such a way that the younger generations get imbued with virtues of equality. Among the major initiatives aimed at promoting women’s rights was the review of the Citizenship Act to enable a Moroccan mother to pass on her nationality to her offspring, regardless of her husband’s nationality. In the same vein, H.M. the King proclaimed, back in 2003, a National Day for the Moroccan woman, observed annually on October 10th, thereby reasserting his firm will to press ahead on the path of promoting the rule of law which enshrines equality between the man and the woman. Morocco-Africa ties raised to effective South-South co-operation “Morocco is like a tree whose nourishing roots plunge deep into the soil of Africa, and which breathes through its leaves, which rustle in the winds blowing from Europe,” the late King Hassan II had said. In keeping with this vision, Morocco has forged strong ties with Africa and Europe, which have been strengthened over time. Its diplomacy in Africa has, over the past years, seen a remarkable evolution as part of a drive to redefine the kingdom’s policy towards the continent so as to give South-South co-operation its full substance with all its human, solidarity-based dimensions, and boost historic, friendship long-standing ties with the continent. This vision stems from a philosophy which rises above national interests, setting South-South co-operation as a bridge of solidarity with the African partners, and taking due account of Morocco’s traditional ties with the continent. This redefining effort has a human dimension as well, which springs from the Kingdom’s deep-seated belief and H.M. the King’s keen will to forge sound, diversified and concrete co-operation with the African countries, which realizes Morocco’s ambitions toward its African brotherly countries. Shortly after his enthronement in July 1999, the sovereign has given a concrete substance to this vision, by announcing at the first EU-Africa Summit (held in Cairo in 2000) Morocco’s decision to write off debts owed to it by the least developed African countries as well as to drop custom duties on products imported from Africa. The move, which was widely applauded at international level, has opened Morocco’s market to Africa’s products and gave a strong momentum to Morocco-Africa co-operation in various areas. Furthermore, it has been a clear manifestation of effective South-South co-operation, which the Kingdom has constantly been urging. To turn this will into a reality, the sovereign has paid visits to several African countries where he got acquainted with a host of Morocco-funded development projects and programmes. The Kingdom has also received a large number of African personnel to pursue their studies in its institutes and universities, granting scholarships to hundreds of African students and dispatching professors and experts to African countries to supervise trainings for the benefit of African executives. As far as its relations with Europe is concerned, the Kingdom was granted an Advanced Status in its relations with the European Union in 2008. The status, which was widely seen as a reward for the various bold reforms undertaken by Morocco, makes it possible for the kingdom to have free access to the European market and to ultimately have road, railway and port infrastructures that are unparalleled in the Maghreb. It attests to trust and esteem on the part of the EU for Morocco as well as for the strategic orientations it has opted for under H.M. the King.