Exploring Constitutional reforms in Morocco
Andrew Murrison MP, Conservative (Leader)
Meg Munn MP, Labour
David Amess MP, Conservative
Stef Kenyon, British Group IPU
The delegation was welcomed to Morocco by Mr. Abdelwahed Radi, former Speaker of the House of Representatives and now President of the IPU.
The visit was an opportunity to meet new MPs 3 months after the elections for the House of Representatives mandated by the new constitution of 2011, with significant powers moved from the King to an elected Government. Meetings took place with the Speakers of the House of Representatives and the upper house, the House of Counsellors as well as a roundtable with MPs. The new constitution requires a significant reduction in the members of the House of Counsellors with elections in October. The delegation observed ministerial questions in the House of Counsellors.
Meetings took place with two Government ministers: the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Communication who is also the Government spokesman.
Outside of parliament the delegation met the Social and Economic Council, set up to advise Government and the AMDI (Moroccan Agency for Investment and Development) on the opportunities for trade and investment and current trade relationships between Morocco and other countries. The Director of the Human Rights Council discussed the work of the Council and the development of institutions to tackle discrimination as laid out in the new constitution.
A visit to the British Council confirmed the dynamism in the country with the volume of work significantly increased over the last year. English is an important asset for developing trade links. The project “Connecting Classrooms” is strengthening cultural exchanges between Middle East and North Africa and the UK.
The delegation had the opportunity to appreciate both Morocco’s past and its future development. This included the honour of visiting the Mausoleum of King Mohammed V as well as guided tours of the medina in Fes; a UNESCO world heritage site. The group viewed ancient texts in the archives of the library and ancient mosques. An informal visit to the new marina demonstrated the development in Rabat including the tramway system introduced in 2011.
A productive meeting was held with the Mayor of Fes which is twinned with a number of towns. At the Mayor’s request the delegation will explore opportunities to form links with a similar UK town, ideally involving a university link.
Support was provided by the British Embassy, specifically by Alan Gogbashian, Deputy Head of Mission, in the Ambassador’s absence on leave. The delegation was briefed on the political situation regarding the Western Sahara and the social and economic development of Morocco.
The visit ended at the Al Akhawayn University campus, founded by the late King Hassan II. It is 17 years old with around 1700 students, operating on an American model.
The media followed the visit closely and there was also a formal press conference in the parliament resulting in significant local coverage.