Friday 26 May 2017
(AFP (eng) 05/09/17)
About 100 African migrants stormed over a high double fence between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla on Tuesday in a violent assault that left three police officers injured, officials said. Around 300 sub-Saharan African migrants attempted to force their way across the fence at about 7am (0500 GMT) in a coordinated operation, a Spanish police spokesman said. "Around 100 managed to enter Melilla," he told AFP. The barrier is composed of two six-metre-high (20-feet-high) fences, with criss-crossing steel cables in between. In order to get across, migrants often use hooks and shoes studded with nails. Three policemen were injured in clashes with the migrants, who kicked and threw rocks at the officers, Spain's interior ministry said in a...
(AFP (eng) 05/09/17)
Algeria and Morocco were the top winners on the opening day of the Islamic Solidarity Games football tournament in Baku on Monday. Four days prior to the official opening ceremony of the May 12-22 games, Algeria struck late to edge Turkey 2-1, while Morocco were too good for Saudi Arabia, winning 1-0. In other games, Palestine and Oman played out an entertaining 2-2 draw, while hosts Azerbaijan had to settle late on for a 0-0 draw against Cameroon. It took two late goals to help Algeria to edge fellow Group B favourites Turkey 2-1 in a thriller. Onur Eris' first half strike put Turkey ahead, but it was Farid El Melali who saved the day for the north Africans with...
(AFP (eng) 05/08/17)
The authorities in Morocco and Spain have dismantled a "terrorist cell" of three Islamic State group supporters, the interior ministry in Rabat said on Monday. It said one of the jihadist suspects was arrested in the northern Moroccan port of Tangier, and the other two were detained in Spain. The ministry said the three-man cell had been in "close contact" with IS in Iraq and Syria and was recruiting volunteers to join the jihadist ranks. Both Morocco and Spain have been spared in the wave of recent IS attacks that have targeted Paris, Brussels and Berlin, as Rabat and Madrid collaborate closely in the fight against extremism. However, Spain was hit in 2004 by the deadliest Islamist attack on European...
(Bloomberg 05/08/17)
Attijariwafa Bank, Morocco’s biggest lender, is planning to complete expansions in East and West Africa this year as it focuses on consolidating its new acquisitions to spur growth. The Casablanca-based bank aims to finalize a deal to buy Rwanda’s Cie Generale de Banque, known as Cogebanque, start commercial banking operations in Chad and apply for a banking license in Ghana in 2017, General Manager Ismail Douiri said in an interview in Cairo on Sunday. The lender has halted its plans to enter Nigeria and Algeria as it prioritizes the consolidation of its purchase of 100 percent of Barclays Plc’s Egypt, which was completed this month as part of plans to boost growth. Attijariwafa started its first wave of acquisitions in...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/08/17)
Morocco's Attijariwafa Bank (ATW.CS) paid twice book value to acquire Barclays' Egyptian business and hopes the acquisition will enable it to increase its market share in Egypt to 5 percent within five years, the Moroccan bank's CEO said. The bank plans to rename the unit Attijari Bank Egypt and raise its profile in Egypt, CEO Mohamed El Kettani said. Britain's Barclays (BARC.L) reached a deal last year to sell its Egyptian banking unit to Attijariwafa Bank, one of Morocco's largest banks, but the value of the deal, which closed this month, has not been disclosed by either side. Kettani, speaking to Reuters on Sunday, would not put an exact dollar figure on the acquisition but said it was twice Barclays...
(AFP (eng) 05/08/17)
Defending champions Morocco edged out Saudi Arabia 1-0 in their opening Group A clash at the Azal Arena, as the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games got underway in Baku on Monday. Morocco were by far the better side throughout and Zouheir El Moutaraji wasted a great opportunity early on, while Saudi keeper Habib Alwatyan made several second-half saves. But substitute Chouaib El Maftoul curled in a deserved winner with 14 minutes to play. It was the first action of the fourth edition of the Solidarity Games, with the only two previous winners of the football tournament going head-to-head. With the domestic league season still ongoing, the Moroccan outfit was mainly made up of amateur players from the lower divisions, but they...
(AFP (eng) 05/07/17)
Italian football has been hit by a second racist storm inside a week after Juventus defender Mehdi Benatia was insulted live on air during a live, post-match television interview with Italian state broadcaster Rai. Benatia, a Morocco international, was being interviewed following a 1-1 Serie A draw at home with city rivals Torino when it was cut embarrassingly short by what seemed like a studio technician's gaffe. As he was speaking to studio presenters about Juventus, Benatia heard a voice over his radio earpiece say: "What are you saying, shitty Moroccan?" Benatia, who had been answering a question about Juventus winning their sixth consecutive Serie A title, stopped mid-sentence and said: "Who said that? What stupid person is speaking?" Presenters...
(AFP (eng) 05/06/17)
A former radical preacher is the unlikely instigator of a debate on a topic long seen as off-limits in Muslim-majority Morocco: women's inheritance rights. The country's Islamic family laws allocate female heirs half the amount men receive on the death of a relative. Abdelwahab Rafiki, a former hardline cleric who served time in jail following jihadist bombings in Casablanca, says it is time that changed. "I invite... religious scholars, sociologists and human rights actors to open a dialogue, primarily in order to uphold justice," he said. Rafiki, also known as Abou Hafs, was one of around 100 male writers, journalists and artists who published a book in April called "Men defend equality in inheritance". He also appeared on a prime-time...
(AFP (eng) 05/05/17)
In Morocco's neglected Rif region, where outrage erupted last year over the gruesome death of a fishmonger, calls for justice have evolved into a grassroots movement demanding jobs and hospitals. Mouhcine Fikri, 31, was crushed in a rubbish truck in October in the northern city of Al-Hoceima as he tried to protest against the seizure and destruction of swordfish, which were not allowed to be caught at that time of year. His death in the Rif -- an ethnically Berber region long marginalised and at the heart of a 2011 protest movement for reform -- briefly sparked protests nationwide and added to long-standing grievances in his hometown. "We're the sons of the poor, simple people who have taken to the...
(Xinhuanet 05/05/17)
Morocco's government has approved 51 investments projects worth 6.7 billion U.S. dollars, the prime minister office said in a statement late on Thursday. The projects will create 6,477 direct jobs, the statement said following a meeting of the Inter-ministerial Investment Commission under the chairmanship of Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine El Othmani. The breakdown of investments by sector shows a strong predominance of the energy sector with 4.3 billion dollars, representing nearly two thirds of the total investments submitted to the committee, which are expected to create some 4,803 jobs. Tourism and leisure activities hold the second position with nearly 13 percent of the planned investments, while transport sector ranks third with 8 percent of said investments. As for financing, 90...
(Voice of America 05/05/17)
As Africa grapples with a severe drought, and famine threatens millions of people, experts at the World Economic Forum on Africa this week in the South African city of Durban say food security needs to be a major part of discussions on advancing the continent economically. The annual World Economic Forum in Switzerland is usually a high-powered event, but at this week’s Africa meeting of the international organization, the continent’s big players are welcoming the humble farmer, now known as the “agripreneur.” Agricultural economist Paul Makube, with South Africa’s First National Bank, told VOA it makes sense to talk about farming when discussing building competitive markets, and boosting innovation and technology. “For business to prosper, you need a situation where...
(AFP (eng) 05/04/17)
A Moroccan cargo vessel has been detained in South Africa following a complaint by Western Sahara that transportation of goods from its disputed territory is illegal, a lawyer said Thursday. The 34,000-tonne vessel laden with phosphate from Western Sahara and destined for New Zealand was blocked from sailing off on Monday following a court application seeking that the vessel return its cargo. "The application was made by the Polisario Front and the Saharawi Democratic Arab Republic asking for the return of the phosphate removed in contravention of the international principle," lawyer Andre Bowley of Webber Wintzel told AFP. "The vessel was detained on the basis of purportedly carrying phosphate mined in Western Sahara to be sold elsewhere in violation of...
(Xinhuanet 05/04/17)
The World Economic Forum (WEF) Africa Competitiveness Report 2017 released in Durban Thursday called for urgent policy reforms if the continent intends to create more jobs for its growing young population. According to the report issued at the 27th WEF on Africa, fewer than one-quarter of the 450 million new jobs required in the next 20 years will be created if current policies remain unchanged. The report called for structural reforms in the economies to create more jobs for the youth entering the market. African countries have to prioritize improving infrastructure, skills and adoption of new technology and quality of institutions. To improve competitiveness in the short term Africa needs to increase housing construction through investment, better urban planning and...
(AFP (eng) 05/03/17)
"If nothing is done, this species will disappear within 10 years," warns a poster on Ahmed Harrad's ageing 4x4 showing Morocco's famed Barbary macaque monkey. Harrad spends his time crisscrossing northern Morocco to try to convince locals to protect the endangered monkey. The only species of macaque outside Asia, which lives on leaves and fruits and can weigh up to 20 kilogrammes (45 pounds), was once found throughout North Africa and parts of Europe. But having disappeared from Libya and Tunisia, it is now restricted to mountainous regions of Algeria and Morocco's northern Rif region. Another semi-wild population of about 200 individuals in Gibraltar are the only free-ranging monkeys in Europe. Today, the only native primate north of the Sahara,...
(Voice of America 05/03/17)
African military expenditures have finally slowed down after more than a decade of steady increases, according to a new report on global defense spending. The main reason, the report found, is a drop in oil prices. “The sharp decreases in oil prices has affected quite a number of African countries, namely South Sudan and Angola. This has kind of driven almost the entire regional trend,” said Nan Tian, a researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) Arms and Military Expenditure Program, the organization that authored the report. The SIPRI report found military spending in Africa in 2016 was down by 1.3 percent from the previous year and totaled about $37.9 billion. Despite the drop, Africa’s military spending remains...
(AFP (eng) 05/02/17)
The Algiers-backed Polisario Front independence movement said Monday it was prepared to embark on negotiations with Morocco on the disputed territory of Western Sahara. The Polisario is "ready to hold negotiations with Morocco on the basis of the right of Sahrawis to self-determination", senior official Mhamed Khadad told a news conference in the Algerian capital. He said the African Union and United Nations should both be involved in the peace process in which the Polisario would aim for "freedom and national independence". On Friday, the United Nations set its sights on restarting political talks on the territory after the Polisario pulled back fighters from a tense zone on the border with Mauritania. UN military observers confirmed that the Polisario forces...
(Bloomberg 05/02/17)
Saudi Aramco is seeking to boost its fuel-trading volume by more than a third as the world’s biggest crude exporter expands its capacity to refine oil to grab a bigger share of growing markets in Asia and Africa. Aramco, as Saudi Arabian Oil Co. is known, is building refineries in the kingdom and in Asia to help it increase sales and purchases of gasoline, diesel and other products to more than 2 million barrels a day, said Ibrahim Al-Buainain, chief executive officer of Saudi Aramco’s trading unit, Saudi Aramco Products Trading Co. Owning refineries gives the unit, known as Aramco Trading Co., options for buying and selling fuel that some of its competitors don’t have. “The key is that you...
(AFP (eng) 04/30/17)
Moroccans who secretly converted to Christianity are demanding the right to practise their faith openly in a country where Islam is the state religion and "apostasy" is condemned. At an apartment in a working-class part of the southern town of Agadir, Mustapha listened to hymns emanating from a hi-fi under a silver crucifix hung on the wall. The 46-year-old civil servant, son of an expert on Islamic law from nearby Taroudant, was once an active member of the banned but tolerated Islamist Charity and Justice movement. He said he converted in 1994 to "fill a spiritual void". "I was tired of the contradictions in Islam," said Mustapha. "
(Reuters (Eng) 04/29/17)
The United Nations Security Council has unanimously backed attempts to restart talks between Morocco and the Polisario independence movement over the Western Sahara conflict and has extended its peacekeeping mission for another year. The resolution late on Friday came after the U.N. mission confirmed the Polisario had withdrawn troops from disputed territory's Guerguerat area, where they faced off since last year with Moroccan forces. Rabat pulled back its forces earlier this year. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier this month called for Morocco and the Polisario Front, who fought a war over the region until a 1991 ceasefire, to enter new negotiations that would include proposals from both sides. "This action should improve the prospects of creating an environment that will...
(AFP (eng) 04/28/17)
The UN Security Council on Thursday postponed voting on a draft resolution on the Western Sahara conflict amid signs the Polisario Front independence movement was preparing a pullback from a tense zone of the contested territory, a council diplomat said. The US-drafted text included a strong appeal to the Polisario Front to immediately withdraw from the Guerguerat strip, which has become a potential flashpoint between the independence fighters and Moroccan troops. "The council wants to see if there is any significant development on the ground in these hours," said a council diplomat who asked not to be named. "We heard that there might be some," he added, referring to the UN demand for the Polisario to withdraw. The council is...

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