Saturday 20 January 2018
(Xinhuanet 12/20/17)
The U.S. remains the primary arms supplier for Morocco, providing more than 96 percent of the country's weapons imports in 2016, local media reported Tuesday. According to the Moroccan daily Al Massae, Morocco imported 254 million U.S. dollars' worth of armaments last year, with 244 million dollars spent on U.S. weapons. In 2015, the U.S. was even the only arms supplier of Morocco, which imported 274 dollars of weapons that year. The North African kingdom spends over 3 percent of its GDP on its military. After the U.S., France is the second arms supplier for Morocco. Morocco, along with Algeria, is considered the top buyer of arms in Africa.
(Xinhuanet 12/20/17)
A total of 8 million tourists visited Morocco between January and August 2017, up 10.4 percent compared to the same period a year earlier, according to Tourism Ministry. International tourist arrivals jumped 13.1 percent, while Moroccans living abroad visiting their homeland rose 8.1 percent, the Ministry said in its latest statistics for the January-August 2017 period. Arrivals from the traditional European emitting markets showed an increase by 14 percent in German tourists, 10 percent in Dutch and Spanish visitors and 8 percent in French and Belgian tourists, the ministry noted. As for emerging emitting markets for Morocco, the statistics shows a 315 percent increase in Chinese tourists, while the number of visitors from Japan, South Korea, U.S. and Brazil posted...
(AFP (eng) 12/18/17)
France on Monday accepted a first group of 19 refugees who were identified in Africa under an overhauled asylum policy that will also see it expel thousands of economic migrants. While it has drawn little public outcry in France, the policy faces stiff opposition from the left and from charities that shelter migrants, 22 of which called in an open letter for France's rights ombudsman Jacques Toubon to intervene. Djamel, a refugee from the Central African Republic, arrived at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport with his wife and four children after spending four years at a camp in Chad, telling AFP: "Now we've no other family. Now you are our family." The new refugees -- also hailing from Sudan --...
(APA 12/15/17)
Morocco’s accession to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will not be on the agenda of the 52nd ECOWAS Summit on December 16 in Abuja, but will take place at an extraordinary summit in early 2018, according to reports from Morocco seen by APA Friday. Last June at the Monrovia Summit, ECOWAS leaders gave their agreement in principle for the Kingdom’s accession. An impact study on the subject was also ordered, and ECOWAS teams travelled to Morocco to carry it out, and the report on the study was released on December 7, just a week before the summit. Marcel de Souza, president of the ECOWAS Commission, paid a visit to Morocco on 28 August. Five points are highlighted...
(AFP (eng) 12/11/17)
Tens of thousands of protesters rallied in Morocco's capital Rabat on Sunday as demonstrations against US President Donald Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital continued to spread. Waving Palestinian flags, a sea of demonstrators marched from Rabat's Bab el-Had square to Morocco's parliament building, down Mohammed VI Avenue, the city's main thoroughfare. "Jerusalem, capital of Palestine!" read a banner carried by the protesters, who included families, Islamist sympathisers, trade unionists and local activists. "The Palestinian people have suffered so much and continue to suffer because of Israel's barbaric colonisation," said one of the protesters, 43-year-old Mustapha. "We must, more than ever, make our voices heard against this decision by Trump that will deprive the Palestinians of their land," said...
(AFP (eng) 12/11/17)
Chinese electric car manufacturer BYD on Saturday signed an agreement to open a factory near the Moroccan city of Tangiers to build battery-powered vehicles, officials said. BYD will become the third car manufacturer, after Renault and Peugeot of French, to construct cars in the North African state. The memorandum of understanding was signed at the royal palace in the coastal city of Casablanca in the presence of King Mohammed VI and BYD's chairman, Wang Chuanfu, whose company is backed by US investor Warren Buffett. The factory in the new Mohammed VI Tangier Tech City, which is part of a project between China and Morocco, is to produce electric cars, buses and trucks at a 50-hectare site employing 2,500 people, according...
(AFP (eng) 12/11/17)
Up to 6,000 Africans who fought for the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group in Iraq and Syria could return home, the African Union's top security official warned Sunday, calling on countries to prepare for the threat. Smail Chergui, the AU's commissioner for peace and security, said African nations would need to work closely with each other and share intelligence to counter returning militants. "There are reports of 6,000 African fighters among the 30,000 foreign elements who joined this terrorist group in the Middle East," Chergui told a meeting in Algiers, according to the Algeria Press Service news agency. "The return of these elements to Africa poses a serious threat to our national security and stability and requires specific treatment and...
(AFP (eng) 12/06/17)
Morocco's King Mohammed VI on Tuesday warned US President Donald Trump against moving the American embassy to the contested holy city of Jerusalem. Trump informed Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas by phone of his intention to move the embassy from Tel Aviv, Abbas's office said Tuesday. In an open letter to the American president, the Moroccan king expressed his "deep personal concern" and "the great concern felt by Arab and Muslim states and peoples" over moves to recognise the city as Israel's capital and transfer the US embassy there. The monarch was writing as head of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation's Al-Quds Committee, which lobbies on issues related to the city, holy to three of the world's major religions. "The...
(AFP (eng) 12/06/17)
Conflicts, violence and disaster across Africa forced some 15,000 people to flee their homes every day in the first half of the year, international monitors said Wednesday. A total of 2.7 million Africans were internally displaced within their own countries in the first six months of 2017, a report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) found. They join the estimated 12.6 million internally displaced people (IDPs) living in African countries at the end of 2016. That number does not include those who have fled across borders to seek refuge, with UN figures showing there were more than 5.6 million refugees in Africa by end of last year. Internal displacement has soared in a...
(AFP (eng) 12/05/17)
The hunger-striking leader of a Moroccan protest movement that rocked the country's north was rushed to hospital Tuesday during a hearing at a Casablanca court, one of his lawyers said. Detained Nasser Zefzafi was attending a hearing at a court of appeal Tuesday morning with 53 co-defendants when he said he "felt faint", Abdessadek El Bouchtaoui told AFP. The judge halted the hearing. An unemployed 39-year-old, Zefzafi became a leading figure in Al-Hirak al-Shaabi, or the "Popular Movement" that broke out in late 2016, calling for jobs, unemployment and an end to graft in Morocco's neglected northern Rif region. Zefzafi -- who was arrested in May after allegedly interrupting a preacher at a mosque to call for further protests --...
(AFP (eng) 12/05/17)
The head of the UN's AIDS agency on Monday urged African countries to protect young women and children who are bearing the brunt of the continent's AIDS epidemic. A sharp rise of people living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has now slowed, "but now is not the time to drop our guard," Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, told the start of a six-day conference on HIV/AIDS and sexually-transmitted diseases in Africa. "The many changes under way in our world should not threaten the sustainability of our great achievements in the AIDS response," he warned. "We cannot afford to lose our gains. If we want to end this epidemic, we must act now and act differently." About 36.7 million...
(AFP (eng) 12/04/17)
A Moroccan court on Thursday sentenced to five years in jail a member of a northern protest movement convicted of "defending terrorism" and incitement, the official MAP news agency said. Police arrested El Mortada Iamrachen in June after he posted the offending comments on his Facebook page, the agency said. A court dealing with "terrorism affairs" issued the guilty verdict against him on Thursday, MAP said. Other Moroccan media said the comments Iamrachen had posted on Facebook were about a December 2016 attack that killed the Russian ambassador in Turkey.
(AFP (eng) 12/04/17)
It may not feature in Morocco's official tourism brochures but cannabis attracts thousands of visitors a year to the North African country. At a hotel bar in the northern region of Ketama, German tourist Beatrix made no attempt to hide the joint she was rolling. The 57-year-old said she had fallen in love with the area for "the quality of its hashish and the friendliness of its residents". Hassan, a 40-something sporting a conspicuous gold watch, said cannabis was "our main source of wealth". "The climate here is very special. Nothing grows here except kif," he said, using a Moroccan name for the drug. Northern Morocco is a key production centre for hashish for export to Europe, but it has...
(AFP (eng) 12/01/17)
Leaders at an EU-Africa summit called Thursday for the immediate evacuation of nearly 4,000 distressed African migrants in Libya under a new drive to fight slave traders and traffickers. Wrapping up a two-day summit in Ivory Coast's economic capital, a top African Union (AU) official said there could be as many as 700,000 Africans stranded in Libya, where many have suffered atrocities and even been sold into slavery. He said a fact-finding mission had seen one camp in Tripoli where all the residents, numbering several thousand, were "living in inhumane conditions" and were desperate to return home. "We have agreed, along with the EU and the UN, to set up a task force for repatriating at least 3,800 people," Moussa...
(AFP (eng) 11/30/17)
A summit gathering European and African leaders from more than 80 countries drew to a close Thursday with plans for the immediate evacuation of some 3,800 African migrants stranded in Libya. Wrapping up the summit in the Ivorian capital, a top African Union official said there could be as many as 700,000 Africans trapped in Libya, where many have suffered attrocities and even been sold into slavery. The two-day summit of the African Union (AU) and European Union (EU) was showcased as a project to boost development in Africa as it faces a population crunch.
(AFP (eng) 11/30/17)
Twenty-five asylum seekers from Africa arrived safely in Rome Thursday, using a Christian "humanitarian corridor" set up for Syrians fleeing the war in their homeland. "It was just a project but it became THE project, the way of the future," said Mario Morcone of the Italian interior ministry. The 25 men, women and children from Somalia, Eritrea and South Sudan arrived in Rome before dawn on a flight from Ethiopia. They will be moved to centres across the country. "We want to ensure that people do not risk their lives in the desert and at sea," Morcone said. "This is an important turning point in the politics of our country. You are witness to this turning point and we will...
(AFP (eng) 11/29/17)
More than 80 African and European leaders will gather in the Ivory Coast on Wednesday to promote jobs and stability for Africa's exploding population, with some calling for a new "Marshall Plan." The two-day summit in Abidjan opens as the European Union increasingly sees its fate linked to Africa's following the twin shocks of unprecedented migration and terrorist attacks. It comes as China, India, Japan, the Gulf Arab states and others also compete for influence on a continent where the 28-nation EU remains as a whole the biggest economic and political player. European Parliament President Antonio Tajani told parliamentarians from both continents before the summit...
(AFP (eng) 11/28/17)
A two-day investment forum opened in Morocco's Marrakesh on Monday as China seeks to revive ancient Silk Road trade routes from Asia to Europe and Africa. "The question is how to accelerate cooperation in the field of investment," said Wang Yong, vice president of the China-Africa Development Fund. The event brings together 400 business executives including 150 from China. Morocco's Industry Minister Moulay Hafid Ellalamy said China and Africa "share the same quest for development". "The Silk Road initiative will change the map of international trade," he said, adding that trade and cooperation were already at "unprecedented" levels.
(AFP (eng) 11/28/17)
Hard cash but also the intangible ties of history have kept Europe in pole position as Africa's main partner, even if an influx of Chinese investment is prompting many African countries to look eastward. Successive years of hefty spending, particularly in infrastructure, have propelled China into the continent's top slot when calculated in terms of individual investor nations. But a quite different picture emerges when this is seen through a broader prism -- the ties between Africa and Europe as a 28-nation bloc. "Europe is in front, given the shared history," said Pierre Dagbo Gode, professor of political science at the Felix Houphouet Boigny University of Abidjan. "Europe is the premier trade partner, the top investor, the top donor," a...
(AFP (eng) 11/28/17)
A furore over migrant slave markets in Libya casts a shadow over an AU-EU summit this week that aims to promote Africa's long-term economic growth and stability, spurred by European fears of terrorism and mass migration. The two-day African Union and European Union summit opening Wednesday in the Ivory Coast economic capital Abidjan is focused mainly on the need to create jobs for Africa's rapidly growing population. The summit marks what Europe sees as a potential turning point for broader and deeper ties with a continent it once colonised widely -- while China, Japan, India and Gulf Arab states also compete for influence. However, outrage over the slave trade in Libya looms over the talks in Abidjan, with the scandal...

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