Through the historical Royal Speech on March 9th, 2011, Morocco has entered the second phase of the implementation process of the advanced regionalization project. It is to be recalled that the first phase of this advanced regionalization was launched, on July 30th, 2010, when His Majesty The King announced in His Speech made on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of his enthronement, the establishment of an advisory commission on the issue.
For His Majesty the King, it is not “a mere technical or administrative arrangement, but “rather a resolute option for the renovation and modernization of State structures, and for the consolidation of integrated development.” It will not be reduced either into “a mere redistribution of powers between the centre and the regions”.
Similarly, this regionalization “represents a major shift in the patterns of territorial governance”, and a prelude to a “new dynamic of radical institutional reform”, said the King. The constitutional consecration of regionalization through a referendum will be an indication of adherence and public support for this new mode of governance.
The new regionalization project in Morocco constitutes a radical transformation, compared to all the previous conceptions of decentralization. It is a new architecture that breaks completely with the past, in its conception, goals, expectations, and its objectives as well. It is a step within the uninterrupted process of the democratization of the political and social life in Morocco.
The logic of this approach is mainly explained by the choice of the regionalization path since many years ago, with the aim of putting down the roots of territorial democracy in Morocco, and avoiding the creation of a wide disparity between the kingdom’s regions, especially the Southern Provinces.
Based on democratic principles, this regionalization aims at strengthening the region’s role in Morocco, which implies major changes in the partition of powers between central government and local actors.
It is the transfer of powers from center to periphery, the will to increase the decision-making centers and to bring them closer to the population. Accordingly, the principles of self-determination and financial autonomy will be an important step forward in the path of consecration of effective powers in the region.
In relation to the Sahara issue, regionalization is also perceived as Morocco’s solution to the dispute. In fact, the President of the Advisory Commission on Regionalization, Mr. Omar Azziman, confirmed that Morocco’s advanced regionalization, under the constitutional reform, is a “transitional stage” towards the autonomy of the Sahara. The implementation of the advanced regionalization in Morocco is the complement of the dynamic and lasting Moroccan bid to solve the Sahara dispute.
To attain the Regionalization objectives, the plan intends to increase the powers of the Regional Councils’ Presidents, to include an executive power. These Presidents will no longer depend on governors and Walis and will be entitled to totally manage the budgets of the Municipal Assemblies, and will be accountable before the people and the law.
Accordingly, the constitutional recognition of the management autonomy and of the administrative one contributes to confirming the principle of the separation of powers and their distribution between the Center and the local authorities.
After more than one year of work, reflection and consultation, the Advisory Commission on Regionalization, under the chairmanship of Mr. Omar Azziman, presented to His Majesty the King Mohammed VI all the documents and acts related to the elaboration of the overall vision of the advanced regionalization.
In this regard, the Royal Speech particularly welcomed the report's content which represents a vision of a “Moroccan model of advanced regionalization” and also paid tribute to the participatory aspect that characterized this report’s elaboration, involving “political organizations, unions and associations.”
The findings of this report must now be subject to a constructive debate at the national level to make this general conception mature, to fit into a concrete and concerted action. The proposed “Advanced regionalization” project has been constitutionally recognized and will be subject to a referendum, in the context of the set of the constitutional and political reforms, mentioned in the Royal Speech of March 9th.
In this respect, the Speech of His Majesty the King presented the broad guidelines to help ensure the consecration of a regionalization that takes into consideration the expectations and needs of the Moroccan people. It is, in fact, a question of measures to strengthen the role of the region as a territorial authority, to promote the democratic process through the election of regional councils by direct universal suffrage and to provide regional councils’ presidents with the executive powers to implement the decisions of the said Councils, instead of Governors and Walis.
It is also to ensure, as pointed out by the King, the increasing of women’s participation in managing regional affairs, and in exercising political rights, particularly through the equal access of men and women to electoral elective office.
This regionalization project targets in particular the Kingdom’s Southern Provinces which will benefit from rights and prerogatives, within the framework of “good governance resulting in an equitable redistribution of both prerogatives, and means between the centre and regions”.