Prior to Morocco's pro-democracy demonstrations, I wasn't exactly sure what news reporters meant when they were saying "Morocco is the exception" with regards to the current unrest sweeping the MENA region, but I do now.
One major difference between Morocco and most countries in the MENA region is that Morocco is ruled by a king, who is widely regarded as reformer and far from being a tyrant the likes of Gaddafi, Ben Ali or Mubarak.
Image source: Los Angeles Times
As we set up the Economic and Social Council, we are not only injecting fresh momentum into the reform process I launched shortly after I assumed the leadership my loyal people, but we are also underlining the close link between genuine democracy and the achievement of human advancement and sustainable development.
The establishment of the Council today attests to an abiding desire to steer clear of demagogy and improvisation as we strive to build our democratic development model on a solid foundation. The Council’s creation process has taken time to come to fruition, reflecting a determination to make it an efficient governance tool in the area of development. Things materialize in their own good time.
The Council is not in any way meant to serve as a third House. In fact, I want it to be a new, broad-based forum that strengthens the bodies which have been set up by the institution-based State to promote constructive dialogue, responsible freedom of expression and an effective response to the aspirations of the people, from all generations and segments of the population. It should reflect and consolidate the long-established tradition of effectively involving the nation’s resources in the search for collective, innovative answers to the major development issues in which I take a keen interest.
I applaud the Council’s broad-based membership, which includes representatives of economic and social stakeholders, social groups as well as scientists and intellectuals. As far as I am concerned, all Council members are on an equal footing.
I have decided to appoint Mr. Chakib Benmoussa as Chairman of the Council, and Mr. Driss Guerraoui as its Secretary-General, in view of their competence, integrity and experience. I expect all Council members to work closely together and to put the nation’s best interests above any other consideration.
The Council will act in an advisory capacity and will submit studies to the Government and Parliament. In this respect, I shall be encouraging both the Government and Parliament to seek the Council’s views on the economic and social issues about which I care deeply. Not only are these issues directly related to human rights and social justice, but they also impact people’s ability to lead a dignified life.
This means you will be expected to give top priority to developing a new social charter based on major contractual agreements that create the right environment to meet the challenge of revamping the economy, boosting competitiveness, promoting productive investment and encouraging public involvement to achieve development at a faster pace. The aim is to ensure an equitable distribution of the fruits of development, in keeping with principles of social justice and national solidarity.
Since training is a key element of the Council’s terms of reference, I expect you to propose efficient solutions to the main problems relating to vocational and technical training, the skills needed on the job market and the requirements of sector-specific strategies and major projects. Our ultimate goal is to ensure a dignified life for all Moroccans - particularly the underprivileged - and to foster the kind of comprehensive development that creates jobs, especially for our young people, who are the main focus of our development policies.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am determined to forge ahead with the Moroccan model which, I must stress, is irreversible. We will be doing more than just safeguarding accomplishments. Indeed, new reforms will shore up the current process, thus reflecting the deep, mutual understanding and cohesion between the Throne and the loyal Moroccan people.
I am just as keen to pursue structural reforms in accordance with a clear roadmap based on specific objectives and the close bond between the Throne and the people. Our goal is to enable all Moroccans to lead a dignified life within a prosperous, united, fully sovereign and solidarity-based nation.