WITH A GRAIN OF SALT: The Lesson of Morocco

Daily News Egypt
5 Min Read

I don’t know how Morocco accepted having international monitors observing its legislative elections that took place earlier this month; a far cry from our great National Democratic Party (NDP) which has rejected any such monitoring as a form of blatant interference in our internal affairs.

The fact is that many countries invite international observers to their elections as a standard procedure. But who says we should imitate them – we do, after all, belong to a great ancient civilization; we have our own specificity.

Among those countries that are accustomed to the presence of international observers is the oldest and most established democracy in the world, Great Britain. The British don’t do this merely as proof of international credibility of their electoral process, they also aim to show the world the true meaning of transparency in the hopes that other countries may learn from their practices.

But our National Democratic Party has proven through consecutive elections, that it has nothing to show the world, least of all when it comes to political credibility and election transparency. Hence such undesirable monitoring is, without a doubt, an invasion into our private affairs, the details of which we prefer to keep hidden.

But it seems that in spite of the wide-ranging political reform introduced by King Mohamed VI since he took over from his father in 1999, Morocco is still lagging behind our great NDP and has thus chosen to abide by the international guidelines set forth by the United Nations to regulate the election process.

The nascent Moroccan democracy seems to take these guidelines very seriously. Morocco’s Consultative Council for Human Rights had invited an international committee of experienced observers made up of 52 experts from 19 countries, headed by the former President of Bolivia Jorge Fernando Quiroga to monitor the country’s elections.

This committee was divided into groups of two or three and met heads of political parties, visited polling stations and police stations and spoke with many voters, politicians, journalists and university professors. But once the elections began, they observed a strict silence, in compliance with UN guidelines. They did not interfere in any way with the process, refraining completely from making remarks or speaking to the electorate until the elections were over and the votes were counted.

And now the international observers are starting to express their total satisfaction with the Moroccan electoral process. After having visited 375 polling stations, they can now vouch for the transparency of these elections as a prelude to a more detailed official report to be released within the next few days.

This of course is an unacceptable situation which those who pushed for inviting international observers to our elections seem to have been asking for.

What happened in Morocco is a real farce. How could they possibly allow an international committee, headed by a foreign ex-president to give the final word on the transparency of their election process?

The newfound democracy in Morocco would have been better off following in the footsteps of its long-established older sister Egypt, where the only proof of election transparency were the statements issued by the ruling National Democratic Party itself.

These statements naturally reached the same conclusions of the international observers in Morocco; that is, that the recent NDP elections were the freest the country has had throughout its entire history – without having to resort to an international committee of 52 observers from 19 countries, including former ministers, MPs, human rights experts and university professors.

The dark era of foreign interference in our internal affairs is long gone; we are now more than capable of assessing our elections as the freest in history with no help whatsoever from anyone.

One would have hoped that our brothers in Morocco would have learnt the lesson from our very own National Democratic Party, instead of troubling this revered international committee for no good reason and teaching us a lesson.

Mohamed Salmawy is President of the Writer’s Union of Egypt and editor-in-chief of Al-Ahram Hebdo. This article is syndicated in the Arabic press

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