Saturday 17 February 2018
(AFP (eng) 01/13/18)
Morocco will start a gradual and controlled liberalisation of its currency the dirham from Monday, Prime Minister Saad-Eddine Al-Othmani said after a cabinet meeting. The North African country has had a fixed exchange rate regime for the dirham since the 1970s. It is pegged to the euro and the dollar. Othmani spoke to AFP on Friday after a cabinet meeting during which the long-expected decision was taken. The process of moving towards what the authorities call a "flexible exchange rate" had been expected to begin in July after a recommendation by the International Monetary Fund. But the move was delayed with the government arguing that it needed more time to study the procedure. Officials have stressed that there would be...
(AFP (eng) 01/12/18)
The Berbers -- descendants of pre-Arab populations across North Africa -- are currently celebrating their New Year festivities. On Friday -- for the first time -- the Yennayer New Year is being marked as a national holiday in Algeria. The Berbers, who refer to themselves as the Amazigh, have long fought for greater recognition for their ancient ethnic group, their culture and language. In Algeria they make up roughly a quarter of the country's total population of 40 million and live mainly in the mountainous northern region of Kabylie. Here is some background on other Berber communities that have stretched across North Africa since long before the Arab conquests: - Morocco - On Africa's northwestern tip, Morocco is the country...
(AFP (eng) 01/12/18)
The African Union said Friday that President Donald Trump's reported description of African nations as "shithole countries" broke with "accepted behaviour" and was "extremely upsetting." Ebba Kalondo, spokeswoman for AU Chairperson Moussa Faki, told AFP that Trump's statement "truly flies in the face of accepted behaviour and practice." "This is not only hurtful, I think, to people of African origin in the United States, but certainly to African citizens," she said. "It's an extremely upsetting statement," she added. The comment was reportedly made during a Thursday meeting with lawmakers about immigration reform...
(AFP (eng) 01/12/18)
President Donald Trump reportedly lashed out in a Thursday meeting with lawmakers about immigration reform, demanding to know why the US should accept citizens from what he called "shithole" countries. The comments, first reported by The Washington Post, sparked anger among Democrats and Republicans and revived questions about Trump's tendency to make racially charged remarks. Trump sat down with senators and congressmen at the White House to discuss a proposed bipartisan deal that would limit immigrants from bringing family members into the country, and restrict the green card visa lottery in exchange for shielding hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation. "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?" Trump said, according to people briefed...
(AFP (eng) 01/10/18)
An EU fisheries deal with Morocco is invalid because it involves the disputed region of Western Sahara, the legal advisor to the bloc's top court said Wednesday in a fresh blow to Brussels and Rabat. The advocate general to the European Court of Justice, Melchior Wathelet, said in a legal opinion that the European Union was "in breach of its obligation to respect the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination". Morocco suspended ties with Brussels in 2016 after a lower EU court annulled an agriculture deal on similar grounds, although the ruling was later overturned and they are now pushing ahead with the pact.
(AFP (eng) 01/05/18)
"Teaching young people to dream again" is the vision of a Moroccan cultural centre in a rundown Casablanca district, once home to a group of suicide bombers who killed 33 people in 2003. Based in a white building next to a tramline and opposite a mosque, the Stars Cultural Centre in Sidi Moumen regularly hosts more than 300 young people for classes in music and music theory, classical dance, hip-hop, English and French. "When we tell young people that violence is not a means to express themselves, we must find them other means," said filmmaker Nabil Ayouch, who co-founded the centre with artist Mahi Binebine. Ayouch's connection with the district began with his film "Horses of God", which looked at...
(AFP (eng) 01/03/18)
Israel on Wednesday began implementing a plan to force tens of thousands of African migrants out of the country by April, threatening to arrest those who stay. "This plan will get under way today," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting. Under the programme, some 38,000 migrants who entered Israel illegally, mainly Eritreans and Sudanese, will have until the end of March to leave. Each will receive a plane ticket and $3,500 (2,900 euros) to do so. After the deadline, this amount will decrease and those who continue to refuse to go will face arrest. Holot, an open facility in Israel's desert south that can host 1,200 migrants who are allowed to leave to work...
(AFP (eng) 12/28/17)
Thousands of protesters in northeastern Morocco on Wednesday called for "jobs and development" in the fourth day of mass protests since two miners died in a shuttered coal pit. "No to marginalisation," cried the mostly young demonstrators in the main square of the impoverished city of Jerada. On Friday, two brothers died in a tunnel accident 85 metres (280 feet) below ground, sparking the fury of residents over what they view as state neglect. "We ask the state to find solutions to our problems: unemployment, water and electricity bills that are too high," one 23-year-old protester said. "Young people go down into the mines because they have no other option. We ask the authorities to find us an alternative," he...
(AFP (eng) 12/28/17)
Morocco's Royal Air Maroc has ordered four 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft from US aviation giant Boeing for delivery at the end of next year, the two companies said Wednesday. The new aircraft, worth $1.1 billion at list price, would allow the flagship carrier "to expand its services, especially internationally", a Boeing statement said. The delivery "at the end of 2018" would bring to 60 the number of planes in the airline's fleet, an official at the Moroccan flagship carrier told AFP. "RAM has five Dreamliner 787-8s, but these new aircraft are more efficient and have greater autonomy," the official added. Royal Air Maroc currently has around 3,220 employees, and serves a total of 80 destinations. "Our ambition is to become the...
(AFP (eng) 12/27/17)
They call them "the mines of death". In the neglected northern Moroccan mining city of Jerada, hundreds of people risk their lives every day to scrape a meagre living from perilous abandoned coal pits. Last week, two brothers died in a tunnel accident, 85 metres (90 yards) below ground, sparking days of mass protests in the impoverished city. Abderrazak Daioui, who was with the brothers, narrowly escaped the same fate. "Houcine and Jedouane were just below me," the 22-year-old said. "One of them dug horizontally and hit a water well. We were flooded. I hung on my rope and managed to get back up. They weren't so lucky." Living in a modest, unfinished house, Abderrazak works to support his wife...
(AFP (eng) 12/26/17)
Thousands of people protested in northeast Morocco on Monday against economic marginalisation after two young men died while digging in an abandoned coal mine. The deaths on Friday of the two brothers, aged 23 and 30, sparked a wave of anger in the city of Jerada, according to Moroccan media. On Monday several thousand people gathered for a second day in a row to denounce harsh living conditions, Said Zeroual of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights told AFP. "The whole city is observing a general strike" in solidarity, he added. The demonstrators have adopted the slogans of the Al-Hirak al-Shaabi...
(AFP (eng) 12/26/17)
Unable to reach Europe in search of a better life, Aliou Ndiaye settled in Morocco instead, giving up on his original goal like thousands of other sub-Saharan African migrants. "Everyone has the right to go to another country to try their luck," the 31-year-old former fish exporter from Senegal told AFP. "Lots of people are trying to reach Europe, but some end up staying to make a living." Seven out of 10 West Africa-born migrants stay on the continent, according to a December study by the Moroccan think tank OCP Policy Center. Discouraged by the danger of passing through countries such as Libya and by harsh policies aimed at preventing migrants going to Europe, many settle in "transit" countries including...
(Xinhuanet 12/20/17)
Chinese top legislator Zhang Dejiang met with Hakim Benchamach, speaker of Morocco's House of Advisors, the upper house of the Moroccan parliament, on Wednesday. China-Morocco relations have taken the lead in China's relations with African and Arab countries, with a strategic partnership established in 2016, said Zhang, chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC). As 2018 marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and Morocco, China will work with Morocco to deepen cooperation in various areas and push forward bilateral relations, he said. Zhang said China's NPC hopes to share experience with the Moroccan parliament in national governance and legislation, work together to promote cultural exchanges and provide a sound legal environment for practical...
(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...

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