OK, let’s imagine the Feb20 contestation was a baseball game instead of a process towards reform and democracy. And let’s look at the Feb20 as a baseball team playing against the Makhzen, and the king being the referee and the highest authority to make the final calls.
The Makhzen has never lost a single game and in this case they are once again favored to win the game, because they are playing on their home turf. Doesn’t necessarily mean the game was fixed to begin with, although highly possible, but in plain baseball terms it simply means they are the reigning champs, so they get the home field advantage and they get to enjoy the support of a roaring crowd rooting for the home team. And if against all odds the Feb20 somehow ends up winning the game, they are the ones who will have the home team advantage as the reigning champs next time around.
In baseball terms, a grand slam is when all bases are loaded and the next player at bat hits the ball far enough (preferably a home run and even better if it’s in the last inning) to secure a score of 4 runs which is the maximum amount possible in a single play. In the case of Feb20 this means (1) separation of power, (2) end to corruption, (3) dissolution of parliament, (4) Human rights and civil liberties.
As it turns out, the Feb20 played a mighty good game against the reigning champs and managed to stay ahead scoring runs every inning (in terms of Human Rights and Civil Liberties), despite the fact that their opponent used every trick possible along the way, even getting physical, using brute force at times to secure a win. So then in the bottom of the 9th (last) inning, the Feb20 is at bat, all bases are loaded, they feel pretty good about themselves, not only because they know they have a good chance at winning, but especially because they played such a spectacular game, they even managed to turn the support of the home crowd around in their favor. You know how everybody loves an underdog! At this point they just couldn’t lose even if they tried.
But then as fate would have it, the referee blows the whistle and declares the game over just when they’re getting ready to hit. The Feb20 resists and insists on having their chance at hitting a home run and possibly secure that grand slam they were aiming for. The referee insists: game over. He says to the Feb20: just accept it, you played a great game and just look at your score card (the proposed constitution), you won fair and square. So now be a good sport, let’s move on to the ceremony and accept your well deserved trophy. The Feb20 wouldn’t hear of it, they insist on going into overtime, demanding a fair process, because somewhere down in previous innings their opponents didn’t play according to the rules (of democracy), making all kinds of fouls, which were unjustly ruled in their favor as well as causing loss of time. The Feb20 being relatively new to the game refuses to accept the fact that such is typical in the case of home team advantage in any sports (absolute Monarchy), but especially when you’re playing at this level, when stakes are pretty high. The home crowd is restless and with just a slight push they could easily turn violent if they don’t like what they see and possibly start a riot which could prove costly for everyone and end up ruining a mighty good game.
That’s pretty much where it’s at right now. I do realize that I sound like the odd one out, but that is the way I see it. The Feb20 perhaps not yet realizing or not willing to accept what great things they have accomplished so far, still insist on a chance at a grand slam, that’s why they’ve decided to boycott the upcoming constitutional referendum.
So what the king was basically saying is that this is as far as he can go on implementing reforms towards a real democracy at this time. I must admit, I was a bit confused when he asked all fellow Moroccans to follow him in voting YES on the proposed constitutional amendments. I thought, well that not very democratic of you, Your Majesty. I was even more confused when he stated his reason for voting YES. I thought, what's the Sahara issue got to do with the people's call for democracy? It didn't make any sense to me. I do understand that the Sahara issue may be an underlying factor in terms of safeguarding national security and stability during these revolutionary times in the region, not the mention the fact that Islamic militancy is always lurking around the corner with intense aspirations for establishing an Islamic caliphate around the world, but I find it hard to comprehend when it's cited as a reason behind his take-or-leave-it offer.
Now if the king had said that he doesn't feel like we're quite ready for a full-fledged democracy yet, but willing to continue implementing gradual changes as time goes on to avoid possible anarchy if things don’t go as well as planned. Or even if he had said that he doesn't yet believe in the success of an independent government under the current circumstances and wants to test the waters first, I would have said yes Your Majesty, I fully agree. But then again, if the king would have said that, he would have probably had a lot of more explaining to do. So instead, he cited the one crucial issue that’s at the heart of every Moroccan: The Moroccan Sahara. The rest we’re supposed to figure out on our own or simply trust him and follow his lead in voting YES.
Then I thought maybe taking the king’s speech at face value is not really what he was asking us to do in the first place, but given the relatively short amount of time we were given to decide, I still felt conflicted. So then I discussed this with one of my friends and she pointed out to me that maybe that’s what the good old wise professor Driss Benali was hinting at a while back. I think she's right, that was an aha moment for me for sure.
In order to get a better grasp of the Moroccan reality and also find answers to the questions that were raised by the public immediately after the king’s speech, one needs to look no further than what the professor had to say about two weeks after the initial launch of the February 20 movement.
“But in general, I believe that the Moroccan society should be built upon new reforms that provide the people with the mechanism to monitor and hold the government accountable. For the society to achieve this goal, they have to organize and create institutions and political parties, unlike the parties that we currently have. We need independent political parties with programs and responsible, accountable leadership. We critically need these reforms.”
Please do read the entire transcript and pay special attention the last paragraph in his statement. Of course you may interpret his words as you wish, but it seems to me thet the professor’s advice is in concert with what the King is trying to implement. First things first, we can’t even begin to speak about dissolution of parliament and full separation of powers if we don’t have a new constitution in place, that spells out democracy Moroccan style.
I do understand that the feb20 feels like they have no other choice than to continue their course with the "Mamfakinch and Mamsawtinch" philosophy, after all, that is the role they have played since day one and it is exactly that which has caused us to come this far towards improvements. But on the other hand, all indicators show that the king is indeed listening and willing to implement reform and all he's saying is see, I'm working with you. Now please just work with me here and together we can continue to make things better for all of us. Although he is saying it from a distance (and in no uncertain terms), instead of engaging them directly to reach an understanding. But then again, maybe the two parties do need to reamin at odds with each other to maintain the pressure on reform and change the status quo.