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Thursday, June 20, 2024
Written Press

The council is not an additional  administration

The 140 members of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs (Corcas), created following the Royal Visit to the southern provinces (March 20-25), have a lot of work to do. Only a few days after its creation on March 25, following the royal speech in Laayoune, Corcas members should meet to formulate the rules of procedure and elect the office. 

Only then they can proceed to the setting up of working groups and specialized committees provided by the Royal decree that gave birth to the structure.  

These entities should also play a particular role so that the council, based in Rabat, will perform outreach work with people spread across a vast territory.

So, if we already know the mission of this new Saharan entity, we should wait and see it will be organised, even though we already know that colleges - since the members were appointed - are expected to play a particular role.

"There are tribal colleges, Saharawis from abroad and refugees, civil society, elected officials, parliamentarians and those who, due to their intellectual skills or expertise, are part of this council," says Khali Hanna Ould Er-Rachid, Corcas chairman (see interview).

According to him, the new structure is not a new administration since it is a political entity created to "humanize politics, government action, and the state’s action" by making the poor people feel they are at the core of development, while carrying out actions aimed at protecting territorial integrity, abroad.

Corcas will mainly have an advisory role in a variety of areas, ranging from economic development in the region to the preservation of territorial integrity.

Its role does not stop there as it should represent the Moroccan nationals from the southern provinces and abroad, as well as the Tindouf populations.

Beyond its role as an advisory body, Corcas should submit an annual report to the King on its balance sheet and its prospects. 

140 members and various power structures

Corcas is a new structure to replace the Board of sheikhs. It is now headed by a president, Khali Hanna Ould Er-Rachid, current president of the municipal council of the city of Laayoune, and former Secretary of State in charge of the Sahara, between 1979 and 1985.

The latter is assisted by a secretary-general, Malaiinaine Ben Malaiinaine Khali Hanna, who has held the post of governor since 1985 in various localities (1985-1994 Safi, Taroudant 1994-1998, 1998-2004 El Hajeb and Larache since 2004).
It should be noted that, according to the Dahir establishing the council, the secretary-general can be chosen from outside members. Both appointed by the King, the two men have to manage a fairly large structure with the support of 9 elected vice-presidents who make up the body’s office.

Appointed for four years, the 140 members of the Council should represent all that the region’s leaders, whether they belong to the local traditional power structure or modern structures of the national State. 

Sheiks, tribal representatives, presidents of the regional councils or provincial assemblies and the Council members also include both civil society actors as members "as advisors", within the State, Ministers of the Interior, Foreign Affairs or their representatives, walis, the governors of the southern provinces and the presidents of professional Chambers.

Some key personalities or known for their experience will also be among the Council members. Among them, Mohamed Salem Rguibi Khalili, the father of Mohamed Abdelaziz, leader of the Polisario Front. It should also be noted that women (10%) and young people (15%), are present in significant proportions, representing a quarter of the Council.

The Council’s composition remains open, other members could possibly be included as needed, according to Nabil Benabdallah, Minister of Communication and government spokesman.

However, all these Council members will participate on a voluntary basis, and Corcas will have a special budget intended to cover its operating expenses falling under the Royal budget.

A powerful regional parliament?

Clearly better equipped than the previous Council, which was established in 1981 with 85 members from local tribes, but remained inactive until then, will Corcas ensure a better future?

"It's not the same council nor the same mission," warns its chairman. "The Corcas has a presidency, which was not the case of the former, it has a specific mission, it is intended to implement a clear royal will," he adds.

In view of its configuration, its desire for representativeness, we might think of corcas the backbone of a future regional parliament, within the framework of autonomy. 

Representing the three regions of the Sahara, Guelmim Smara, Laayoune Boujdour and Dakhla, joining the proposals by some parties to ensure that the territories are not isolated, it provides a springboard for the adaptation of local elites to the responsibilities involving the exercise of power in the region.

A structure that will nevertheless struggle to convince local people and become an interlocutor on their behalf, "including against Algeria," concludes Khali Henna Ould Er-Rachid.

Beyond its role as an advisory body, the Corcas shall submit an annual report to the King on its balance sheet and its prospects.

The council is not an additional administration

La Vie Eco: What are the main objectives of the Council for Saharan Affairs?
Khali Hanna Ould Er-Rachid: The preservation of national unity is one of the council’s basic tasks.

Since the speech by His Majesty, we has been working, we have started an instructive approach with the tribes, civil society, opinion leaders to explain the scope of the Royal Council and its importance to the Saharan provinces at political, economic and social levels, as well as for national unity.

VE: How will act locally while the the Council’s headquarters is in Rabat?
KOE: The council is in Rabat, but we will work in all provinces, all regions, with all people, as well as abroad.

VE: Do you foresee a system of local offices?
KOE: No yet. Beware, the Council is not an additional administration, it is a tool created by the King for honest, transparent and direct implementation of his policy in the Southern provinces.

It is a political tool, not a government: we will be in touch with all the forces in the southern regions, youth, women, indigenous tribes, intellectuals, operators from economic, social and cultural fields.

We will galvanize all this power to fight the idea of separatism and concentrate the entire effort of the state, from an economic and financial point of view, on the real objectives.

In other words, we will ensure that this effort concerns the poorest, visible, that people feel that the development is not theoretical or visible from afar.

VE: Is not there a risk of duplication with existing bodies, including the Development Agency for the Southern Provinces?
KOE: The agency is a member of the advisory council, as well as all the walis, region authorities, or the administrations of the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs.

VE: In sum, the council is a link between the administration and the population ...
KOE: Rather a link between the population and the Sovereign. We will allow a better implementation of government policies.

That is to say we are going to direct it where necessary so that the entire population will feel concerned, and that it is not a administrative and bureaucratic matter whether politically, economically or socially.

VE: Will the presence in the council of non-Saharans affect its credibility among local populations?
KOE: Absolutely not. The people they represent, the people who have lived in the Sahara for 30 years, have the right to be represented. Our goal is to reach a total representative symbiosis of the nation and prevent any misunderstandings.

VE: It is expected that Corcas will represent Tindouf prisoners. How are you going to do so? 
KOE: We are the ones who are going to represent them: these people are kidnapped, they do not have the freedom to express themselves, they do not get in touch with political parties or civil society. We are going to contact them by all means.

They have already heard our message, they saw the election of this council, and they will gradually understand that is our fundamental mission is to make them understand that the new draft autonomy within the framework of Moroccan sovereignty is much better than separatism, which is an option that has brought Saharans to deadlock and has prevented the construction of the Maghreb. It has made war, destruction, family separation, hatred.

autonomy is a historic contribution to a historic reconciliation because the historically made accusations by Sahrawis, were not directed against the monarchy or the state but against the Administration, all administrations since 1956.

VE: The royal speech mentions "enlargement of the participation space in the management of local affairs, and the emergence of new elites capable of assuming responsibilities." Is the council a sort of predecessor to a Sahrawi "parliament" created by autonomy?
KOE: It is certainly a very good preparation, because the Council will give credibility to the projects and express the Royal will made by the Moroccan people as a whole. 

The preparation of local elites is the fundamental mission of the council. Elites need to be trained, and prepared. We will dedicate ourselves to this preparation in all areas: education, political debate, consensus, transparency, good governance, public services and so on.

Source: La Vie économique

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