Morocco. A coalition government continued to govern Morocco
after the September 27 election. The Socialist Party USFP
(Union Socialiste des Forces Populaires) lost seven seats to
50, but remained the largest party. According to
Countryaah website, USFP continued its
government cooperation with the Nationalist Istiqlal Party
and Conservative RNI (Rassemblement National des
Indépendents, Independent National Movement), which received
48 and 41 seats, respectively. Socialist Driss Jettou
succeeded Abderrahmane Youssoufi as prime minister.
Although the Islamist party PJD (the Justice and
Development Party, the Justice and Development Party)
tripled from 14 to 42 seats, it could not be included in the
government. A total of 26 parties lined up. The number of
women also increased sharply from two to 35 as 30 of
Parliament's 325 seats were reserved for women. Voter
turnout was just under 52%, lower than 1997. Reports on
voting and the absence of ballot papers were available.
In July, Morocco occupied the small uninhabited rock island Perejil/Leila, which Spain claims and later retreated.
Following American mediation, the Spanish soldiers were also
withdrawn. In September, talks were held between the
countries about the island and about other disputes such as
fishing rights as well as smuggling of drugs and refugees
across the Gibraltar Sound.
Ten suspected members of the al-Qaeda terrorist network
were arrested in June accused of planning sabotage against
NATO vessels in Gibraltar Sound. In August, nearly 30 people
were arrested, who were allegedly belonging to two militant
Islamist groups that carried out murders and kidnappings.
On March 21, King Muhammad VI married Salma Bannani. The
couple got engaged in October 2001. The announcement of the
engagement was a violation of tradition.
At least 63 people were killed in the event of heavy
flooding in central Morocco at the end of November.
A fire on November 1 in a crowded prison in Sidi Moussa,
20 miles south of the capital, Rabat, claimed at least 49
prisoners' lives and 89 injured.
In June 2015, the regime expelled 2 Amnesty International
employees who were in the country to investigate refugee
conditions at the Morocco-Spain border.
In December 2015, the European Court of Justice issued an
order invalidating the EU's fisheries agreement with Morocco
as far as the sea area off Western Sahara was concerned,
since the agreement did not benefit Western Sahara
residents. The EU appealed the ruling.
The regime continued the repression directed especially
at human rights groups in the country and activists working
for Western Sahara and its citizens' rights.
In March 2016, the dictatorship expelled 84 employees of
the UN from Western Sahara, after UN Secretary-General Ban
Ki Moon, during a visit to a Saharui refugee camp in
Algeria, referred to the Moroccan occupation of Western
Sahara as occupation. Both the African Union (AU)
and the UN subsequently condemned the steps of the
dictatorship. The EU and the US remained silent. Just a
month before, an EN court had issued an order stating that
products produced by Morocco in Western Sahara did not fall
under the EU preferential trading system with Morocco.
Morocco responded again by protesting to the European
Commission, which immediately overturned the court's ruling.