Morocco. According to
Countryaah reports, the government's hunt for militant Islamists
continued. In February, security forces were reported to
have split a terrorist group and arrested its leaders and 31
other members. According to the government, the group had
links to both the militant Islamist group al-Qaeda in
Afghanistan and the Shiite Hizbullah guerrilla in Lebanon.
In May, police were said to have split a similar group of
eleven members, among them several Moroccans living in
A number of people were sentenced during the year to
shorter or longer prison sentences for involvement in
militant Islamist activities.
African refugees told Spanish press in May that 29
refugees drowned on April 28 when Moroccan flutists had
pierced their inflatables off M's coast. 70 refugees ended
up in the water, but 40 were rescued by another ship. Among
the dead, there were reportedly four children. Most of the
refugees came from Nigeria and Mali. The Moroccan fleet did
not comment on the information.
In February 1998, King Hassan appointed USFP leader
Abderrahmane El Youssoufi as prime minister and in March he
appointed the new government. In March 1999 and after
several postponements, the government once again requested
the UN to postpone the planned referendum in December. The
Moroccan authorities proposed March 2000 as a new date.
However, after studying the situation and discrepancies
between the government and Polisario in Western Sahara, the
UN Secretary-General decided to postpone the vote to an
undetermined date by 2002. The date had originally been set
for 1991, but was postponed each time.
The death of Hassan II in June 1999 and his son Mohammed
VI's takeover of the throne led to major political changes
in the country. The first act of the new king was the pardon
of some 800 political prisoners. In a televised speech in
August, the king pledged to fight social inequality,
domestic violence, unemployment and rural escape. Polisario
welcomed the King's first political action and, in
particular, the decision to accelerate the referendum on the
future of Western Sahara. In November, Mohammed VI made
proposals for a kind of autonomy in the occupied territory.
In the same month, he deposed Interior Minister Driss
Basri, who had kept his post for almost 20 years through
changing governments. During the celebrations of Ramadan in
January 2000, the king announced the release of another
2,000 political prisoners. In March, government proposals
for greater rights to women triggered both support and
counter-demonstrations. With the bill, polygamy would be
banned, the marriage age of women would be increased from 14
to 18, the woman would be granted half the values of a
divorce, and this should be monitored by a judge, and not
today, solely for the man's good fortune.
In August, the king announced the discovery of large gas
and oil deposits at the country's eastern border. Some
independent media estimates there could be 20,000 million
barrels of oil.
Acc. a report from the moroccan prison system published
in May 2001 is the country's prison system characterized by
corruption, violence, illness and child abuse, many of whom
are under the age of 12. At the same time, the 44 prisons
are notoriously overpopulated and the sanitary conditions
lead the idea of past historical periods. They house
80,000 prisoners, but are only built for half. Acc. The
report is the only food the inmates get the food their
families bring after first having to bribe the prison staff.
The terrorist attack in New York on September 11, 2001,
worsened relations with Spain. Madrid tightened control in
Ceuta and Melilla and at the same time demanded that Morocco
do more to limit the flow of illegal refugees to Spain. Just
days before Mohamed VI was to begin his official visit to
Western Sahara, Morocco on October 27 called its ambassador
to Spain home for consultations and canceled a mutual summit
scheduled for December.
Tourism dropped dramatically after September 11 -
especially the flow of tourists from the United States.
Therefore, in January 2002, Fez authorities and influential
people gathered a delegation who traveled to New York in
April to inform the North American public that it would be
warmly welcomed in Morocco.
Mohamed VI broke the tradition when he published the news
of his wedding and the name of the chosen one: Alma Bennan -
a 24-year-old engineer. Acc. observers were the wedding sign
of modernizing the country, and it is expected that the
king's wife will provide the country's women with a more
prominent role in public life.