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Cable sobre las elecciones en Rabat

En 2009, la Embajada en Rabat informa sobre el desarrollo de elecciones municipales "relativamente transparentes" y de la intervención en las mismas del palacio real

ID: 216679
Date: 2009-07-15 10:38:00
Origin: 09RABAT607
Source: Embassy Rabat
Classification: SECRET
Dunno: 09RABAT517
Destination: VZCZCXYZ0001

DE RUEHRB #0607/01 1961038
P 151038Z JUL 09

S E C R E T RABAT 000607



E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/15/2019


Classified By: Charge d'Affaires, a.i., Robert P. Jackson for reasons 1
.4 (b) and (d).


1. (C) Despite the relative transparency of the recent
election of town (or communal) council members across Morocco
on June 12, the subsequent election by council members of
city and communal council leaders (mayors), may represent a
step backward for Moroccan democracy. The high-stakes
indirect balloting for mayors has traditionally been a forum
for vote buying and pressure. This year, not content with
its already impressive and fair electoral performance, the
Party of Authenticity and Modernity (PAM) of Fouad Ali El
Himma reportedly used extra-political pressure tactics,
including invoking the name of King Mohammed VI, to pressure
other parties into entering pro-PAM mayoral coalitions and
withdrawing from alliances with the Islamist-oriented Party
of Justice and Development (PJD). This resulted was non-PJD
led coalitions in Casablanca, Tangier (PAM-led), and Sale.
Most troubling, the Palace appears to have intervened in
several places to keep the PJD from controlling Morocco's
major cities, while allowing them to run second-tier cites,
such as Kenitra and Tetouan. Palace interference was most
blatant in the city of Oujda. There, the Ministry of
Interior-appointed local governor blocked a vote that would
have produced a PJD-led coalition on June 25, allowing the
centrist parties time to pressure coalition allies. National
police and intelligence officials reportedly intimidated PJD
coalition supporters and beat a local PJD leader into a coma.
A former Minister, a French government contact and other
sources confirmed Palace complicity in the pro-PAM/anti-PJD
effort. The PAM has sullied its reputation as a reformist
party and bolstered criticism that it is an instrument of the
Palace. The picture as usual is mixed, and palace
intervention appears more anti-PJD than pro-PAM. In Laayoune
in the Western Sahara, the PAM suffered a crushing defeat at
the hands of Istiqlal's Ould er Rachid machine. In total,
these machinations may further erode public support for
Morocco,s fledgling democratic processes and increase
sympathy for the PJD. End Summary.

PAM: The Palace Party

2. (SBU) For over two weeks, Morocco has witnessed
widespread media coverage of political party irregularities,
corruption and government interference in the recent city
leadership election races. In contrast with the public June
12 elections for communal councils, which saw Moroccans
electing town council members in a relatively transparent
manner (Ref A), the roughly week-long process for selecting
mayors (in large cities) and communal council presidents (in
small cities and rural areas) has been characterized by
multiple reports of irregularities. Because mayors are
selected indirectly from the pool of recently elected
communal council members, which come from a myriad of over 30
political parties (six of which dominate Moroccan politics),
the process comes down to intense negotiations (with various
incentives and disincentives) to establish majority
coalitions in each city. The ranking member of the leading
party in these coalitions typically becomes the mayor or
chief executive. See Paragraph 9 for new mayoral selection

3. (C) Several days into this negotiation process, leaders
of the self-described Koran-referent PJD began to complain
that the PAM had been using extra normal pressure tactics,
i.e., outside of the normal petty bribery often associated
with the process, to enlist other parties and their members
to support PAM-led coalitions and desert PJD-led coalitions
in key cities. D/PolCouns attended a political debate on
June 29 among party leaders at which PJD leader Benkirane
roundly criticized the PAM for using the extra-normal
pressure tactic of invoking King Mohammed VI's name to
underscore His Majesty's alleged preference for other parties
to join PAM-led coalitions and to thwart PJD-led coalitions
in cities like Casablanca, Tangier, and Oujda. Because PAM
party founder, Fouad Ali El Himma is widely known as "a
friend of the King" and the PAM's success has largely hinged
on the perception that he "has the monarch,s ear,"
Benkirane's accusations received thunderous applause from the
crowd, even as the local PAM representative deflected the
accusations as "sour grapes."

4. XXXXXXXXXXXXX, confirmed Benkirane's accusations. In addition,
XXXXXXXXXXXXX said that the PAM also employed malicious and
untruthful smear campaigns against individual PJD members,
calling some drug dealers, terrorists, and criminals and
getting guidance from the security services. This focused on
Morocco's largest cities, as the PJD did win elsewhere. "If
you look at all of the cities where PJD was permitted to win
mayoral slots, e.g., Tetouan, Chefchaouen, Kenitra and
Larache, they all have several points in common: they are
relatively small, poor, and lacking central government
investment," XXXXXXXXXXXXX.

5. (C) A French Embassy source (strictly protect) confided
to D/PolCouns July 9 that his contacts in the Moroccan
leadership report that King Mohammed VI had indeed ordered
that the PJD not be allowed to assume mayoral positions in
several Moroccan cities like Tangier and Oujda. PAM's taking
the top job in Tangier seems particularly suspicious. With
the PJD tying the Rally of National Independents Party (RNI)
for the plurality of votes there, the two parties initially
formed a coalition with RNI taking the mayor,s slot in
exchange for a PJD taking the Vice mayor,s position.
However, the coalition dissolved just before it was to be
finalized with RNI representatives claiming enigmatically to
reporters that "they came under extraordinary pressure" to
withdraw from the coalition, without further elaboration.
This coalition was replaced with a PAM-led coalition, despite
the fact that PAM finished fourth in Tangier.

--------------------------------------------- -------
Oujda Mayor,s Race Marred by Government Intervention
--------------------------------------------- -------

6. (C) MOI complicity in supporting PAM, or at least
blocking the PJD from securing the mayor,s position in major
Moroccan cities, however, appeared most blatant in the city
of Oujda where PJD won a plurality of council seats. In the
council chambers, MOI officials prevented a PJD-led coalition
with members of the Popular Movement Party (MP) and other
parties on June 25, declaring an insufficient quorum. In the
ensuing days, 13 local council members allied with the PJD,
including all six communal council members from the MP,
reported harassment from the Renseignements Generaux (RG),
i.e., an internal intelligence branch of the National Police,
to withdraw their support from a PJD-led coalition. On July
27, one of the MP communal councilors supporting the PJD-led
coalition, Fadwa Manouni, posted on YouTube a scathing
commentary on the security force,s intimidation tactics,
which included lengthy questioning by local police and
attempted blackmail by the RG of the 13 communal council
members supporting the PJD-led coalition. MP councilors said
that party chief Mohand Laenser originally approved the
coalition; then only after the PJD mayoralty was blocked,
changed his position. Subsequently, Manouni and the five
other MP communal council members that had continued to
support the PJD were expelled from the MP on July 9. She
then reportedly dropped out of sight. On July 11, Manoumi
recanted her YouTube speech in another web posting, but has
not appeared in public.

7. (SBU) PJD, MP, and other elected council members
protested the government's intervention on July 3. Police
were called in to break up the protests, according to the
press. During an ensuing melee, PJD leader Noureddine
Benbakr, who would have been Mayor if the PJD-led coalition
had been permitted to stand, suffered a cerebral hemorrhage
and fell into a coma as a result of a blow to his head by
security personnel. Other elected council members suffered
less serious injuries, were detained, and later released.
Later that day, a PAM-supported Party Istiqlal (PI)-led
coalition secured the mayoral post for the brother of
Transport Minister Hejira. PJD parliamentary leader Mustapha
Ramid, who had come to support local PJD members in Oujda,
was blocked from entering the Oujda municipal center,
according to the press reports.

8. (C) A Parliamentary staffer and former MP member
confirmed to D/PolCouns on July 13, that the six MP council
members in Oujda had come under "intense pressure" from local
security authorities and PAM members, through threats and
intimidation, to withdraw their support from coalition with
the PJD. He said these threats bore the moniker of the
Palace, adding, "they (the MP members) were put in a terrible
position." He also confirmed that he had heard from his
political contacts that the Palace was taking all necessary
measures to prevent the PJD from securing the leadership of

any of Morocco,s major cities. He went on to say that he
knew of communal council members that came under the same
combination of pressure tactics from PAM and government
security authorities in the cities of Sale and even Rabat.
The media reported that a move to select PJD parliamentary
leader Lahcen Daoudi as Mayor of Rabat subsequently collapsed
under rumors of government pressure, but the PJD stayed in
the coalition to support socialist USFP member and former
Finance Minister Oulalalu.

9. (U) Mayors and Their Coalitions follow:

City Mayor Party Coalition
---- ----- ----- ---------
Meknes Ahmed Hilal PAM RNI, UC
Marrakesh TBD PAM PI, RNI, MP, UC
Tangier Samir Abdelmoula PAM RNI, MP
Fes Abdelhamid Chabat PI RNI, FFD
Oujda Omar Hejira PI PAM, MP
Laayoune Hamdi Ould er Rachid PI PI majority
Chefchaouen Mohamed Soufiani PJD USFP
Tetouan Mohamed Ida Ammar PJD USFP
Sale Noureddine Lazrak RNI PI, FFD
Agadir Tarik Kabbage USFP PJD, PT
Rabat Fathallah Oualalou USFP PJD, PI, RNI,
and PPS

Constitutional Union UC
Democratic Forces Front FFD
Istiqlal Party PI
Party of Authenticity and Modernity PAM
Party of Justice and Development PJD
Popular Movement Party MP
Progressive Socialist Party PPS
Rally of National Independents RNI
Union of Socialist Forces Party USFP
Workers Party PT

Normal Irregularities Are Bad Enough

10. (C) Even without the extraordinary events described
above, the process of selecting city leaders has always been
one of the most opaque and corrupt aspects of Morocco's
communal elections process. XXXXXXXXXXXXX, the mayoral selection process is heavily
influenced through the giving and taking of bribes. She said
that while this election was no exception to the rule,
increased government scrutiny over government-provided
campaign funds had given increased incentive to parties to
recruit wealthy individuals into parties to contribute to
parties' "slush funds." Tronnes pointed to political
"kidnapping," of council members to resort hotels (with their
families) for the duration of the selection negotiations,
rewards the councilors and denies competitors the opportunity
to make counter offers so that, "once a candidate is bought,
they stay bought."

11. (C) Former Minister of Human Rights Mohamed Aujjar told
Charge that the GOM,s heavy-handed tactics may have
backfired and increased support for the PJD. The former
Minister also noted that the RNI split with the PAM has
certainly deepened. He felt the only positive development
from this exercise was the possible entry of the MP and the
UC into the Istiqlal-led coalition. Aujjar believed that a
looming cabinet reshuffle will be limited in scope, with the
PAM remaining in opposition but voting with the Government on
most issues.

12. (U) On July 13 and 14, the Ministry of Interior and the
PAM, respectively,separately refuted any inappropriate and
anti-democratic tactics.


13. (C) As usual in Moroccan politics, this is a mixed bag
with an unclear bottom line that points to both ongoing
evolution and continued monarchical autocracy. Despite the
relative transparency and success of the local communal
elections on June 12 (Ref A), the subsequent elections of
mayors appears to represent at least a partial step backward
for Moroccan democracy. For the PAM, despite having secured
a plurality of council seats nationwide, elected hundreds of
young reformers new to politics, and won leadership of some

major cities, it has tarnished its effort to paint itself as
a standard bearer of democratization. The combination of the
PAM,s extra-normal pressure tactics and its joint efforts
with security officials to block PJD city leadership has
largely confirmed previous criticism that it is an instrument
of the Palace. But it too suffered several setbacks, as in
Western Sahara. While probably still destined for victory in
2012, it will be subject to greater scrutiny.

14. (C) PAM success has been blunted a bit by a large number
of legal challenges, at least two of which it has already
lost, including its new star, the young women mayor it had
gotten elected in Marrakesh, who has been ordered to face a
rerun of the election in her district (septel). PAM
officials indicate they will be fighting these challenges in
court and appealing decisions that have gone against them.

15. (S) One uncertainty in this is the role of the King. He
was in the north through much of the unfortunate events in
Oujda. Unconfirmed accounts have indicated that it was at
his personal order that the PJD was kept out of the large
cities. One source claimed that the King was pouring a lot
of the government's money into the previously neglected north
and particularly into the Oujda region, on Algeria's border,
in order to prepare regional infrastructure for a potential
reopening. The source said the King did not want the PJD to
be able to claim credit for this largesse and the development

it would promote.

16. (C) For the PJD, it may have been kept out of running
major cities, both by normal hardball politics and, at least
in Oujda by apparently blatant intervention by security and
domestic intelligence services, denying it the chance
showcase any example of good governance in a high profile
city prior to the 2012 general election. Still, the modern
Islamists of the PJD now run more cites than ever before and
their number of local councilors remains 50 percent above
what it scored last time around. In sum, this is enough of a
blow to frustrate them, but probably not enough to drive them
from the game. The outcome may well erode further public
support for Morocco's democratic processes and future voter
participation. However, while the political season of
cascading regional and upper house elections will continue
run until October, and the legal fights will continue, on the
local level, the public will turn to see how the new mayors
and councils govern. End Comment.

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