Thursday 17 August 2017
(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...
(Xinhuanet 04/28/17)
Morocco's new government is banking on a growth rate of the gross domestic product of 4.5 percent in 2017, following a 1.8 percent in 2016, Minister of Finance and Economy Mohamed Boussaid said on Thursday. This evolution would be due to the amelioration of the agricultural value added by 11.9 percent and the non agricultural one by 3.5 percent in 2017, Boussaid said while presenting the draft budget bill before the parliament. The bill should have been approved by parliament last year, but it was not put for vote due to the six-month-long political deadlock. He also said that the industrial sector would grow by 3.9 percent in 2017, following a 3.5 percent growth in 2016. Morocco's parliament voted on Wednesday in favor of the new cabinet and government program.
(Voice of America 04/28/17)
A low-cost and widely available drug could save the lives of 1 in 3 mothers who would otherwise bleed to death after childbirth, according to a new study. Severe bleeding, known as postpartum hemorrhage, or PPH, is the leading cause of maternal death worldwide, killing more than 100,000 women every year. Even for mothers who survive, it is a painful and traumatic experience. The world's poorest countries, especially in Africa and India, are the worst hit. Drug from 1960s But there is new hope. In the 1960s, Japanese researchers developed a drug called tranexamic acid, which works by stopping blood clots from breaking down. But they could not persuade doctors to try the drug for treating PPH. The London School...
(AFP (eng) 04/27/17)
A Moroccan court has sentenced seven people to between five and eight months in prison over the death of a fish seller crushed in a rubbish truck. Mouhcine Fikri, 31, was killed on October 28 as he protested against the authorities' seizure and destruction of his swordfish, which had been caught out of season. His death in the northern port of Al-Hoceima sparked nationwide protests. The Criminal Chamber of Al-Hoceima handed down the sentences Wednesday after a manslaughter trial of 11 people including officials from the fisheries authority and the interior ministry along with employees of the cleaning company, the local prosecutor said. In a statement carried by the official MAP news agency
(AFP (eng) 04/27/17)
A group of around 50 Syrian migrants have been stranded since last week in the Moroccan-Algerian border zone with neither country granting them access, activists said Wednesday. "Separated into two groups, they are surviving under very difficult conditions thanks to help from some activists and the local community," Moulay M'hamed Ammari told AFP. Ammari said the volunteers were providing some food and blankets "but this is not enough". A woman in the group gave birth on Sunday in the rugged terrain with the sole assistance of activists on the telephone. Morocco last Friday accused Algeria of expelling 55 Syrians across the frontier near
(Reuters (Eng) 04/27/17)
Morocco's Islamist-led cabinet won a vote of confidence in parliament on Wednesday after the country went more than six months without a government, causing delays to public spending and reforms. Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani from the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) addressed the lower chamber of parliament late Wednesday, after which the 395-seat chamber voted in favor of the new cabinet and government program. Othmani's government will hold its first meeting on Thursday to examine the 2017 budget, which should have been approved by parliament in 2016. The PJD won elections in October, but the formation of the government was delayed during wrangling with parties who critics
(AFP (eng) 04/27/17)
Moroccan authorities have seized more than 420 tonnes of plastic bags in the year since the entry into force of a law prohibiting their use, the government said Wednesday. With the legislation dubbed "zero mika", or zero plastic in Arabic, Morocco became one of the first countries in Africa to impose a total ban on plastic bags, along with Rwanda. During the year, "more than 421 tonnes of plastic bags, 70 manufacturing machines, 16 vehicles" were seized, and 55 people were arrested, said the interior ministry. In the first three months of 2017, 36 tonnes of plastic bags and 51 machines were seized in operations to dismantle their illegal production, it said in a statement. Since the law took effect,...

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