King Mohammed VI of Morocco has pledged to put an end to the economy of rent and policy of privileges that have so far prevailed in the Sahara provinces and to radically reconsider the governance system in these provinces.
In a speech he delivered on Thursday on the occasion of the anniversary of the Green March, the impressive peaceful march that enabled Morocco to recover in 1975 the Western Sahara provinces that were under Spanish dominion, the Moroccan ruler conceded that the governance system in the Sahara was marked by certain malfunctions and that some opportunists adopted extortion as “a deep-rooted doctrine,” “turned rent-seeking and privileges into an indisputable right” and “abused the national cause to serve their own interests.”
Over the years, these malfunctions led to an economy of rent and to undeserved privileges and ignited resentment and a sense of injustice and exclusion among some segments of the population, the King said pledging to remedy the situation and to end “this policy of rent and privileges”
“Our goal is to break with the previous system of governance and to enable the inhabitants of the region to participate in the management of their local affairs in a transparent, responsible way, making sure equal opportunity is guaranteed,” he said.
According to the king, his country will start implementing the advanced regionalization plan in the Sahara provinces as of 2015.
This project that he described as “major” will be crucial to the region’s future, and Morocco will see to it that the region’s population benefits from the local wealth, “in an environment where equal opportunity and social justice prevail,” he said.
He also called for “an open, candid national dialogue and for debate on different ideas and visions in a dedicated, responsible manner, in order to come up with clear answers to all the issues and concerns that are on the local population’s mind.” He insisted however on the need to make sure that this debate be held “within the framework of the country’s national unity and territorial integrity.”
In his speech, the king also called the private sector to be more actively engaged in the development of the southern provinces and dismissed as “false” the allegations that Morocco is exploiting the region’s wealth. “What is produced in the Sahara is not even enough to meet the basic needs of its population,” he said.
Moroccans have borne the cost of developing the southern provinces, he said.