Morocco. According to
Countryaah, a breakthrough in the negotiations on Western
Sahara was made possible in the fall, especially through the
former US Secretary of State James Baker's mediation. After
Morocco and Polisario held direct talks at the top level for the
first time in 22 years, the parties were able to agree on
the procedure for an upcoming referendum on the issue. A
crack question was who would vote, and after a compromise,
80,000 people agreed. A census was started in Western Sahara
during the last month of the year and a period of
disarmament and normalization began. The referendum is
expected to take place in December 1998.
In the fall, two elections took place. In November, for
the first time in Morocco's history, about 18 million went.
Moroccans to cast their votes in direct elections to the
second chamber, the House of Representatives. Over 3,000
candidates divided into 16 parties participated and the
debate was characterized by the problems of high
unemployment, a lack of education and a poor economy. In
December, in the first elections, representatives were
elected to the first chamber, the Advisory Assembly.
Before the elections, King Hassan restructured the
government in order to de-politicize it. Four women were
given positions in the government for the first time. For
the first time, it was also Islamists were allowed to gather
in public place and hold elections, which happened in
Former Zaire President Mobutu Sese Seko died in the fall
of Rabat, where he was forced into exile.
Also in March, Africa Contact published a report
documenting that Danish companies contribute to Morocco's
occupation of Western Sahara. Sampension, AP Pension, Danske
Bank, Nykredit and Nordea are among the 15 Danish pension
companies and five Danish banks investing in companies that
extract oil and gas and import phosphate from occupied
Western Sahara. The report had no effect in Denmark, where
Danish companies also supported the apartheid regime in
South Africa through the 1970s and 80s. In April, a
Norwegian pension company withdrew its investments from
companies that worked in occupied territory.
Morocco, who had not been a member of the AU for decades
due to its occupation of Western Sahara, filed an
application for admission in September 2016. The country was
admitted in January 2017.
The country's economic and social problems sparked
protests in various parts of the country in October. The
triggering factor was the killing of the authorities on
fishmonger Mouhcine Fikri from Al Hoceima. The murder sent
thousands on the streets in protest in the major cities,
including Rabat and Marrakech as well as Al Hoceima. Slum
dwellers clashed with police as authorities began tearing
down houses in Sidi Bibi near Agadir. The protests only
subsided after 4 days when authorities decided to target 11
people for the fishmonger's death.
Authorities continued the persecution of journalists and
independent media. In January 2016, independent journalist
Ali Anouzla was brought to trial, accused of "calling for
terrorism". The prosecutor demanded 20 years in prison.
Anouzla had referred to Western Sahara as occupied. The
prosecution chose in May to drop the case.
Denmark is actively supporting the suppression of human
rights in Morocco. In 2016-17, Dagbladet Information could
reveal that the Danish Ministry of Business had granted
export authorization for advanced monitoring equipment from
the Nørresundby company BAE Systems Applied Intelligence.
The permit was for exports to the dictatorial states of
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, UAE, Morocco and Algeria. The
advanced electronic equipment was used to monitor and
persecute journalists, human rights activists and
oppositionists. Even before the Arab Spring of 2011, BAE's
predecessor, ETI, had provided monitoring equipment to the
Ben Ali dictatorship in Tunisia. ( Theme series on Danish
exports of monitoring technology, Information
In the October 2016 parliamentary elections, the ruling
Islamist PJD went up to 18 seats to 125, but even greater
progress was gained by the monarchist PAM, which passed 55
seats to 120. The turnout was 43%. For the next 5 months,
Prime Minister and PJD leader Benkirane tried to put
together a new majority government with the participation of
the smaller parties in parliament, which for most had
resigned. That was unsuccessful, and in March 2017 he was
therefore fired by the king, who instead appointed PJD's
Saadeddine Othmani to form government. A new government was
presented in April. Benkirane then resigned from his seat in