Morocco

  1. Morocco arrests suspected IS-linked militants

    BBC World Service

    The Moroccan security forces say they've broken up a cell of militants linked to the Islamic State (IS) group.

    Three arrests were made in the southern city of Errachidia.

    The suspects have been accused of plotting the imminent killing of a public servant.

    The name of the target hasn't been revealed.

    Moroccon security escorting a suspect in Errachidia
    Image caption: Police take away a suspect following a raid on a home in Errachidia
  2. Moroccan king appoints new PM after election

    BBC World Service

    Aziz Akhannouch, head of the Moroccan National Rally of Independents (RNI), gives a speech after his party came first in the parliamentary elections, in Rabat, Morocco, 09 September 2021.
    Image caption: Aziz Akhannouch is the leader of National Rally of Independents, which now has the largest number of seats in parliament

    King Mohammed VI of Morocco has appointed Aziz Akhannouch of the liberal National Rally of Independents (RNI) party as prime minister and asked him to form a government.

    RNI emerged as the biggest party in Wednesday's parliamentary election, crushing the Islamists who had led the country for a decade.

    Aziz Akhannouch is a billionaire seen as close to the monarchy.

    Elected politicians in Morocco have only limited powers, as key decisions remain in the hands of the monarch.

    Ten years ago the Islamist Justice and Development Party became the country’s biggest party in parliament after electoral reforms were introduced following the Arab Spring protests which swept North Africa and the Middle East.

    But a decade on, it lost all but 12 of its 125 seats, leaving it just the eighth biggest party.

  3. Analysis: Behind the collapse of Morocco's Islamists

    Nora Fakim

    BBC News, Casablanca

    Saad-Eddine El Othmani , Morocco's Prime Minister and President of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), greets people during a campaign meeting in Sidi Slimane, some 120 kms from Rabat, on August 27, 2021
    Image caption: Saad-Eddine el-Othmani is unlikely to keep his job as prime minister

    The Islamist Justice and Development Party was elected to lead Morocco’s government a decade ago, prompting huge excitement in the country.

    It became the country’s biggest party in parliament after electoral reforms were introduced following the Arab Spring protests which swept North Africa and the Middle East.

    But a decade on, it has lost all but 12 of its 125 seats, leaving it just the eighth biggest party.

    There is no single explanation for the PJD’s dramatic decline – some blame it for presiding over the country’s first recession in 20 years, while others have accused it of alienating more progressive Muslims in the country.

    In 2019 they criticised a female MP for wearing un-Islamic clothing.

    One voter, Khadija, told me she was disappointed that the PJD had not created more jobs for young people.

    “I voted for the PJD as they made me feel that they represented people from different class backgrounds. I thought we would have seen an improvement in society but I feel that the rich-poor divide is getting bigger.”

    The parties with the most seats now are the RNI led by billionaire Agriculture Minister Aziz Akhannouch, followed by the Authenticity and Modernity Party (Pam), which has close links to the monarchy.

    New voting rules were expected to make it harder for bigger parties to win as many seats as before, which means the RNI will have to enter coalition talks to form a government.

    But regardless of who wins, King Mohammed VI has the last say on appointments concerning key departments including the interior, foreign affairs and defence. It also sets the economic agenda of the country.

  4. Morocco's Islamists suffer big loss in election

    Workers at a polling station make preparation for the start of vote counting after the end of the voting period in Sale, Morocco, 08 September 2021
    Image caption: Moroccans voted in parliamentary elections on Wednesday

    Morocco's Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) has suffered a crushing defeat in parliamentary elections, slumping from first to eighth place.

    The liberal National Rally of Independents (RNI) party gained most seats, followed by another liberal party - the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) - which is seen as close to the monarchy.

    The RNI and PAM parties took 97 and 82 seats respectively of the 395-seat parliament, while the centre-right Istiqlal Party got 78 seats, according to the preliminary results announced on Thursday.

    The PJD only got 12 seats from the 125 seats it had in the outgoing assembly.

    Elected politicians in Morocco have only limited powers, as key decisions remain in the hands of King Mohammed VI.

  5. Moroccans vote in parliamentary elections

    BBC World Service

    Voter
    Image caption: Many people are concerned about the impact the pandemic has had on the economy

    People in Morocco are voting in parliamentary and local elections.

    Many voters are concerned about the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has also meant that no big political rallies could be held.

    The moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party has led Morocco's coalition governments over the past decade, but analysts say voters feel that parliament has little meaningful influence.

    All real power continues to lie in the hands of King Mohammed VI.

  6. Video content

    Video caption: Morocco elections: What's the one thing voters would change?

    Ahead of the 8 September elections, we asked young people in Casablanca what it's like to be Moroccan in 2021.

  7. Algeria to play in Morocco despite severed ties

    Ahmed Rouaba

    BBC News

    The Algerian national team will play the football World Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso in the Moroccan city of Marrakech as scheduled.

    There were speculations the fixture would be moved to a different venue after Algeria severed ties with Morocco following a diplomatic fallout, built up over years of strained relations.

    An Algerian football official confirmed in a video released on the football association website that the game would go ahead as scheduled.

    Amin Abdi said: "the Algerian football delegation has visited the facilities dedicated to host the Algerian national team in Marrakech and have been well received by their Moroccan counterparts".

    Marrakech was designated to host the game between Burkina Faso and Algerian on 7 September because Ouagadougou Stadium was suspended by the African Football Confederation.

  8. Algeria to cut gas supplies to Morocco

    Ahmed Rouaba

    BBC News

    Workers riding bikes leaving the In Amenas gas plant, 1,300km (800 miles) south-east of Algiers, Algeria -  January 2018
    Image caption: The oil and gas sector is the backbone of Algeria's economy

    Algeria has announced it will not renew a gas-supply agreement with Morocco days after severing diplomatic relations with its North African neighbour.

    Rabat is currently taking 900,000 cubic metres per year of Algerian natural gas from the Maghreb-Europe pipeline, which runs from Algeria to Spain and Portugal through Moroccan territories.

    The contract with Morocco expires in October.

    In a meeting with the Spanish ambassador, Energy Minister Mohamed Arkab said Spain's gas would be provided in future via an alternative pipeline called Medgaz, which connects from Beni Saf in Algeria to Almeria in Spain without going through Morocco.

    It has capacity of eight billion cubic metres a year, which can be increased, according to Mr Arkab.

    On Tuesday, Algeria cut ties with Morocco, accusing Rabat of "hostile actions" for backing Tizi Ouzou separatists.

    Morocco has dismissed the accusations as "absurd".

    The two countries have long had a fractious relationship - especially over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

  9. Morocco rejects Algeria's reasons for severing ties

    Ahmed Rouaba

    BBC News

    Algeria fires
    Image caption: Algeria has accused members of the MAK separatist movement of starting forest fires

    Morocco has rejected reasons put forward by Algeria in its decision to sever diplomatic relations with its North African neighbour.

    Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra announced his country’s decision on Tuesday to cut all ties with Morocco for "hostile acts".

    Algiers accused its neighbour of providing support to members of the MAK separatist movement, which is fighting for self-determination in the Kabylie region of Algeria.

    MAK is believed to have started forest fires in Algeria, and is also accused of involvement in the killing of a man mistaken for an arsonist.

    In response, the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: "Morocco rejects this unjustified decision. The pretext is fallacious and absurd.

    "The Moroccan kingdom will however remain a credible and loyal to the Algerian people and will continue to act with wisdom."

    The Algerian foreign ministry had previously summoned the Moroccan ambassador over remarks the Moroccan envoy to the UN had made backing the separatist movement in Algeria.

    Rabat has not provided a response to Algiers questions. This is believed to have exacerbated the row between the two countries and led to Algeria severing all ties.

    Morocco has also been accused of using Israeli technology to spy on journalists and foreign officials, including Algerian military and political leaders. The Moroccan government denies this.

    The already fractious relations between Algeria and Morocco over Western Sahara has worsened recently with Rabat re-establishing diplomatic relations with Israel.

  10. Algeria cuts ties with Morocco over 'hostile acts'

    Ahmed Rouaba

    BBC News

    A wildfire in Algeria - August 2021
    Image caption: Morocco has been accused of backing a separatist movement that officials believe started fires in Algeria

    Algeria has severed all ties with Morocco, accusing its North African neighbour of “hostile acts”.

    The move comes a week after Algeria accused Morocco of complicity in starting recent forest fires that ravaged coastal regions.

    “We have decided to sever diplomatic relations with Morocco staring from today,” Algeria’s Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra said at a press conference.

    "The Moroccan kingdom has never stopped its hostile actions against Algeria."

    Algeria has also been upset by recent accusations that Morocco used Israeli technology to spy on journalists and political leaders, including high-ranking Algerian political and military officials. These allegations have been denied by Rabat.

    The two countries have long had a fractious relationship - especially over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

    Morocco has annexed the region, however Algeria backs the Polisario Front, which has been fighting for independence of the former Spanish colony for the Saharawi people since the 1970s.

    The border between Algeria and Morocco has been closed since 1994.

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  11. Morocco prepares Covid vaccine programme for youths

    BBC Monitoring

    The world through its media

    A Moroccan nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at an inoculation centre in the city of Sale on january 29, 2021

    Morocco is preparing to launch a Covid-19 vaccination campaign for those aged 12-17, according to local media.

    Said Afif, a member of the health ministry's scientific committee, told Morocco World News that various government ministries were working on the vaccine scheme for students.

    The country has succeeded in a rapid roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine, and has administered the highest number of vaccines of any African country by a significant margin.

    Currently almost half the population of 36.5 million people have received one dose of the vaccine, while 12 million have been fully jabbed, according to the health ministry.

    Morocco's success has been attributed to its early acquisition of vaccine deals, its effective deployment of healthcare staff, and the government's communications strategy with Moroccans.

    Sources told local outlet Le 360 that the Moroccan cabinet has agreed to extend a nationwide state of health emergency until 10 October.

    The country is still battling a wave of infections due to the spread of the Delta variant.

    In total, nearly 811,000 case have been recorded in Morocco since the outbreak began, along with 11,792 Covid-related deaths.

  12. Spain can repatriate children to Morocco - court

    BBC World Service

    a volunteer with the Spanish Red Cross comforting a migrant on a beach in Ceuta
    Image caption: Thousands of migrants swam to Ceuta, a Spanish enclave next to Morocco, in May

    Spain's national court has rejected moves by refugee rights groups to stop the government sending backing under-age migrants to Morocco from Spain's African city of Ceuta.

    The court said it would not uphold an earlier suspension, but warned that the repatriation policy might breach human rights.

    The Spanish government wants to return about 700 young Moroccans who were among thousands encouraged to cross into Ceuta in May, during a dispute with Rabat about Western Sahara - a former Spanish colony now ruled by Morocco.

    Repatriations were supposed to start last Friday, but several of the youths due to be sent back mounted a challenge.

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  13. Morocco fights wildfires as Algeria situation eases

    Firefighters in Morocco were fighting to contain forest fires in the mountainous Chefchaouen region in the north.

    Moroccan forces on Monday posted to Twitter pictures of the attempts to put to put out the fires:

    View more on twitter

    Neighbouring Tunisia and Algeria have been experiencing forest fires in the past week amid a heatwave sweeping across North African countries.

    The Algerian authorities on Monday said the wildfires that had been raging in the country for the past week were now "under control".

    “Most of these fires have been brought under control and don’t represent a danger to residents,” Col Farouk Achour, a spokesman for the civil protection authority, was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.

  14. Israel opens diplomatic office in Morocco

    BBC World Service

    Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita (R) and his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid (L) sign co-operation agreements, in Rabat, Morocco - 11 August 2021
    Image caption: Yair Lapid (L) signing agreements with his Moroccan counterpart earlier this week

    Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has officially opened his country's diplomatic liaison office in the Moroccan capital, Rabat.

    Morocco broke off relations with Israel more than 20 years ago, when the second Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, erupted.

    But the ties were revived last year as part of a series of diplomatic deals between Israel and several Arab states - brokered by the US.

    The agreements infuriated the Palestinians, who want the Arab world to isolate Israel until there's a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

  15. Jailed Moroccan journalist ends hunger strike

    Human rights activists carry banners depicting dissident journalist Soulaimane Raissouni, who is on hunger strike, to demand his release
    Image caption: Soulaimane Roussani was detained more than a year ago

    Jailed Moroccan journalist Soulaimane Roussani has ended a hunger strike after being admitted to hospital, his lawyer said.

    Roussani had been refusing food for 122 days as a protest against what he said was the "injustice" dealt to him.

    His lawyer Mohamed Messaoudi told the AFP news agency that the prison doctor warned Mr Raissouni on Saturday that he would die unless he started eating.

    Raissouni was detained more than a year ago and was sentenced last month to five months in prison for indecent assault.

    He denies the charges, which his supporters say are politically motivated.

    A number of journalists in Morocco have been prosecuted for alleged sex crimes.