Moroccan and Tunisian PMs Start New Partnership
Morocco’s Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane and his Tunisian counterpart Hamadi Jebali met in Rabat on Friday to sign several new partnership agreements on trade, technology, and renewable energy. The two also agreed to loosen restrictions on travel, employment, and residency between the two countries as well as give expatriates the right to vote in local elections. Benkirane underscored the need to create “a regional force,” which Jebali echoed drawing comparisons to their European neighbors.
Additionally, Reporters Without Borders condemned the recent sentencing of Moroccan blogger Mohamed Sokrate to two years in prison on what they called ”trumped-up charges of drug possession and trafficking” which they say “seem to mark a new stage in the Moroccan government’s campaign against freedom of expression.” Sokrate is a well known blogger and member of the February 20th Movement who has been outspoken about civil liberties and secular values.
Also, the Carnegie Endowment’s Mohamed Daadaoui analyzed the power of rituals and use of “traditional capital” by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI. “This interplay,” Daadaoui argues, “of the traditional within the edifice of the modern state is constant and at the core of the political authority in Morocco.” King Mohamed’s wealth has also reportedly grown [French] five-fold in the last ten years to $1.9 billion, making him the 7th richest monarch in the world and 4th richest in the Arab world.
Karim Boukhari also reported [French] in SlateAfrique on what he perceives as a backslide of free speech in Morocco since the start of the Arab Spring. Boukhari warns of a “re-traditionalization” that has moved the line of acceptable self expression in society back, particularly in art and in recent political debates about new restrictions on abortions.