Saturday, 28th January 2023

North Africa

Articles related to North Africa

Moroccan lawmakers on Monday (Jan. 23) voted unanimously to review ties with the European Parliament, accusing it of meddling after a resolution that urged the kingdom to respect press freedom.

Members of both houses of Morocco's parliament met in the capital Rabat for a joint session in response to the non-binding European text adopted on Thursday.

In a statement after their session, the Moroccan legislators called the European resolution "an unacceptable attack against the sovereignty, dignity and independence of judicial institutions in the kingdom." 

They said it had "seriously harmed the fundamental trust" between them.

As a result, Morocco's Parliament "decided to reconsider its relations with the European Parliament and submit them for an overall evaluation," said Rachid Talbi Alami, speaker of the House of Representatives. He gave no further details.

Under a 1996 agreement, Morocco and the European Union have been linked in tight economic and commercial relations, particularly in agriculture and fishing.

"Their decisions are not going to intimidate us, and we are not going to change our path and approach," said Mohammed Ghiat, president of the National Rally of Independents, the biggest party in Morocco's ruling coalition.

European lawmakers in Strasbourg had urged Morocco to "respect freedom of expression and media freedom" and to "guarantee imprisoned journalists... a fair trial". 

The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) watchdog welcomed the EU parliament vote as a break with "25 years of passivity".

Some lawmakers saw Morocco's former colonial power France as pushing the European measure.

"Behind the scenes of this decision hides a country which we had thought of as a friend and a solid partner, but the smell of gas has made it lose it", said Ahmed Touizi, of the Authenticity and Modernity Party.

Touizi, whose party belongs to the majority coalition, was referring to warming ties between Paris and Algeria, Morocco's neighbour and rival -- and a major exporter of gas to European nations.

"Morocco has had enough of double standards," Abdelmajid Fassi Fihri, of the Istiqlal Party, told AFP. He deplored the fact that the European Parliament had not condemned attacks on press freedom in Algeria.

'Journalists jailed'

Two of the most prominent journalists' cases in Morocco are those of Omar Radi and Soulaimane Raissouni, both sentenced at appeal last year on sexual abuse charges.

Radi, 36, who has been critical of Moroccan authorities, was sentenced to six years in prison for rape and espionage, charges he denies.

Raissouni is serving a five-year sentence. He, too, has always maintained his innocence, and says he was prosecuted "because of his opinions".

Moroccan authorities insist the judiciary is independent, and that the cases against journalists have nothing to do with journalism.

Last week European parliamentarians also said they were "deeply concerned" by allegations that Moroccan authorities had bribed its members, and reaffirmed the European Parliament's commitment to "fully investigating" corruption.

The corruption scandal involving MEPs that erupted last month sent shockwaves through EU circles in Brussels, with MEPs accused of taking bribes from Qatar as well as Morocco.

Both countries vehemently deny the accusations.

Following the European resolution, an "authorised source" at the foreign ministry in Rabat, quoted by a media outlet close to the government, said the EU measure would have "no impact on Morocco".

The source said it "fits with the aggressions and harassments sustained by the kingdom from those disturbed by Morocco's development, prosperity and strong role in the region."

-Africa News

The Egyptian Bar Association announced Thursday an "indefinite" strike to protest the imprisonment of six colleagues for a brawl with clerks earlier this month.

"We immediately suspend all our activities, we will stop appearing in court and participating in the investigations of the prosecution from January 19 and for an unlimited period," the lawyers announced on their union's website.

On Wednesday, the criminal court of Marsa Matrouh (north-west) sentenced six lawyers to two years in prison following a brawl between them and three court clerks in the coastal city on January 5, according to the state-owned daily al-Ahram. 

The Egyptian lawyers believe that there was "a clear intention to keep their colleagues in custody without real justification" and denounce a "rush to bring them to trial without taking the time to conduct a real investigation", according to the statement of their union.

The lawyers of the six convicts have appealed the decision and the court is expected to consider their request on Sunday.

In December, thousands of Egyptian lawyers demonstrated outside their union's headquarters in central Cairo - an unusual occurrence in a country where public demonstrations are banned - to protest a new electronic billing system introduced by the Ministry of Finance.

-Africa News

The Moroccan and Spanish governments are expected to hold a joint summit on February 1 and 2 in Rabat, nearly a year after the reconciliation of the two countries, the Spanish Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday.

"Spain and Morocco have decided that the 12th high-level meeting will take place on February 1 and 2 in Rabat," he said in a statement.

Spanish Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and a dozen ministers from his government will take part in this summit, we learned from the ministry, which was however unable to indicate who would participate on the Moroccan side. 

The holding of such a summit meeting was announced last April during Pedro Sanchez's visit to Rabat. He had been received there by King Mohammed VI to seal the reconciliation between the two countries after a year of diplomatic tensions linked to the sensitive issue of Western Sahara.

The reception in Spain in April 2021 of the leader of the Sahrawi separatists of the Polisario Front, a sworn enemy of Rabat, to be treated there for Covid-19 had triggered this estrangement, the culmination of which had been the arrival in May of more than 10,000 migrants in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta thanks to the relaxation of Moroccan controls.

Madrid then denounced "blackmail" and "aggression" on the part of Rabat, which for its part recalled its ambassador to Spain, who did not return there until March 2022 after the normalization of relations between the two countries.

This normalization was made possible by Spain's decision to publicly support Morocco's autonomy plan for Western Sahara, which Madrid now considers "the most serious, realistic and credible basis" for resolving the conflict in the former Spanish colony.

-Africa News

The head of Italian diplomacy on Wednesday said Italy is "ready to increase" the flow of legal migrants from Tunisia but calls for more efforts against illegal immigration.

Antonio Tajani, Italian foreign minister on his visit to the north African country reiterated on the need to reduce irregular immigration and strengthen regular immigration between the two countries.

"Italy is also ready to increase the number of regular immigrants, trained in Tunisia, who can come and work with us, in the field of agriculture, in the field of industry. That is to say, to reduce the 'irregular immigration and strengthen regular immigration," said Mr. Tajani.

He added, "the great problem of immigration is a scourge for Tunisia and Italy. We said we had to solve the problem at its roots. It is not an exclusively security problem. It is of course a security problem, but we must have a strategy to understand why thousands and thousands of people decide to leave their country of origin."

Mr. Tajani also announced the upcoming organization of a Business Forum to "further strengthen the presence of Italian companies" in Tunisia, which last year Italy became the first trading partner.

A French tourist died from head injuries and her husband was hospitalised after being attacked by an “unstable” man near Rabat, a hospital official and Moroccan authorities said Monday.

This woman in her eighties "died of a head injury. Her husband, also in his eighties, is in stable condition. He arrived conscious at the hospital," said Dr. Leila Derfoufi to AFP.

It is not yet clear the reason for the attack which comes 48 hours before the semi-final of the World Cup between Morocco and France. 

According to local authorities, the unstable man attacked the couple with a stone.

the suspected " mentally imbalanced" man was arrested and taken into custody by the local gendarmerie, the authorities added.  

An investigation is underway under the supervision of the public prosecutor.

The French are by far the most numerous foreign tourists visiting Morocco.

On January 15, a 79-year-old French tourist was murdered with a knife in a market in Tiznit, near Agadir, in southern Morocco.

The Moroccan justice system ruled out terrorism, concluding that the murderer was not criminally responsible because of "mental disorders" and ordering his internment in a psychiatric hospital.

-Africa News

About us

African News Centre is an online media company, which strives to bring you the very latest African news.

Contact us

If you have any contributions contact us on email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
African News Centre | Postal Address | P.O Box 90455 | Klein Windhoek | Namibia | 9000