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American Diplomats in Morocco held secret meetings with members of ‘Al Adl Walihsane’

The American foreign affairs department seems to be following very closely the evolution of the reform process in Morocco. Triggered by the 2Oth February nationwide protests, the constitutional reforms were subjected to a national referendum.  The new constitution expanded powers of the head of government and paves the way for a relative, yet unprecedented separation of powers. Soon after, legislative elections provided a resounding victory for the Party of Justice and Development (PJD), a moderate Islamist party renowned for its honesty among the Moroccan electorate.
Last July, American ambassador in Rabat, Mr. Samuel Kaplan, gave a press conference organized by French speaking newspaper “L’Economiste”. According to the daily newspaper Assabah, the American embassy had held a series of secret meetings with the members of ‘Al Adl Wa Lihsane’, an Islamist association banned by the Moroccan regime. The ambassador justified the American activities by the need to know what the Moroccan dissidents advocated, adding that it is normal to have dissidents who are unsatisfied with the government. He emphasized that the Moroccan authorities were informed before of these meetings.
He highlighted the democratic overtures of the monarchy, allowing its dissident groups to voice their opinions about the system of governance in Morocco. He asserted, “The American embassy’s meetings with the ‘Al Adl Wa Lihsane’ association are by no means an act of provocation,” adding that the US chief aim was to become acquainted with the manifold components of Moroccan society whose social make up is rather complex.
‘Al Adl Walihsane’ is a Moroccan Islamist group led by a charismatic leader Sheikh Abdessalam  Yassine. It envisions the establishment of a Moroccan society ruled by Sharia. It operates through a grassroots welfare network and its omnipresent in student unions all across Moroccan universities. The group refuses to take part in a political system in which “corrupt practices” prevail.  It has chosen to remain in the margins of society, but within a highly cohesive structure.
The Islamist group joined the ranks of protesters demanding a constitutional monarchy and more separation of powers. On 18 December, 2011, in what was perceived as a sudden and unexpected development, the ‘Al Adl Walihsane’ association posted a statement on its website, announcing its withdrawal from the 2Oth February movement, which has been spearheading protests in Morocco.
The American ambassador insisted that the constitutional reforms recently issued in Morocco are likely to be consolidated and expands the prerogatives of the Head of government. Kaplan added that “the coming days will show whether the monarch is ready to delegate some of his former powers to the head of government”. “The monarch’s concession of powers is, in itself, a major step towards the reinforcement of democracy in Morocco,” he was quoted as saying.
The American ambassador made it clear that American diplomacy has to fathom the methodology and mechanism of the judicial apparatus in Morocco, if it is to suggest substantial reforms to the judicial system. He added that the legal treatment and rehabilitation of minors should be a top priority, since no society would like to see its teenagers and youth relapse into the same crimes again. more
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