Geopolitics Regionalism under New Moroccan

Constitution and Autonomy of Sahara

Dr Suresh Kumar

Indian Journal of African Studies. Vol. XVIII.
April & October 2012. No. 1 & 2 (Published in January 2013).


Note – The author has presented the paper in the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) as an African expert in the United Nations Organisations (UNO) Headquarter, New York, USA on 9th October 2012. He has revised his paper as per the requirement and submitted for publication.

The history of Proto-Berber’s settlement in North Africa belonged to the period of 3,000 BCE. ‘Roman excavation and its withdrawal from the land of Mauritania and Morocco relate to the period from c. 110 BCE to c. 280 BCE. Moroccan Berbers submitted to the Arabs during their invasion in c. 710 and finally became as an independent entity in the 14th century with Idris-I. Portuguese came to Morocco during the period of 1471-1505 AD followed by French in 1844 AD and Spain 1860 AD. The Algeciras Conference of 16th January and 7th April 1906 acknowledged the Sultan’s sovereignty in Morocco, allowed for international economic access, and provided the joint French-Spanish policing of Morocco. European colonizers used the land of Morocco for their movements during first (1914-18) and second (1939-45) World Wars and the anti-colonial struggle started with the formation of Istiqlal (Independence) party in 1944 under the leadership of Sultan Mohammed V after that he was abdicated by France in 1953 and got free in 1956.
The Kingdom of Morocco has an area of 7,25,000 square kilometer and comprises 31 million (2009 estimate) belonging to different communities like Arabism, Amazigh, Hassani, Sub-Saharan, African, Andalusian, Hebrew and Mediterranean. This research work covers the study of physical geography through maps, the application of the influence of political and economic geography on the national power, combination of geographic and political factors influencing or delineating Morocco or any region and national policy based on the interrelation of politics and geography. One cannot ignore the geopolitics of Morocco that lead to regional, national and international connectivity of provinces with the rest of world on the one hand and availability of geoponics and natural resources like phosphates, iron ore, manganese, lead, zinc, salt, date palm and fish found disproportionately on the other hand; it needs a policy of political regionalism to distribute the share equally to all the region.
The territory of Western Sahara consists of 102,703 sq miles (266,000 sq km), NW Africa, a northern part of Morocco. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean in the west, Algeria in the northeast and Mauritania in the east and south. The population as per the estimate of 2007 is 382, 617 and the largest city of this region is El Aaiun having population of 198,200. The monetary unit is known as Tala (W S Territory, 2012: emphasis mine). This region is divided into four districts such as Laayoune, Essemara, Boujdour, and Oued Essemara that is extremely arid and is almost entirely covered with stones, gravel or sand. The Rocky highlands in the east part of this region reach up to 1,500 ft (460 m). The main towns are Laayoune (formerly El Aaiún), Dakhla (formerly Villa Cisneros), Boujdour, and Essemara. The population is predominantly made up of Arabs and Berbers. The pastoral nomads migrate into the territory during the rainy season. Both Hasaniya Arabic and Moroccan Arabic are spoken as most of the population is Sunni Muslim (W S People 2010: emphasis mine). The Popular Front for the Liberation of the Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario), based in Tindouf region of Algeria is demanding the separation of it from Morocco. Western Sahara’s economy was dependent on pastoral nomadic, fishing, and phosphate mining. Along with it, the history of economic exploitation, under privilege of four districts of Western Sahara such as Laayoune, Essemara, Boujdour, and Oued Essemara demand a considerable degree of autonomy within Morocco. It will forge a socio-political culture characterized by interpersonal interchanges and better marketing relations i.e. move towards decentralization of geo-natural resources that strengthen the bonding of cooperation of provinces towards the Center on the one hand and centre provides the necessary minimum basic needs (bread, cloth and shelter) to all and a move towards development of civil society on the other. The traditional economy is limited to the ‘raising of goats, camels, and sheep, and the cultivation of date palms. There is coastal fishing. Large deposits of phosphates at Boukra (near Laayoune) were first exploited by a Spanish-controlled firm in the early 1970s; Morocco has since taken primary control of the firm. Potash and iron deposits exist at Agracha. There is a growing tourist industry. The region has a limited transportation network; the main seaports are Dakhla and Laayoune. Phosphates and dried fish are exported, while fuel and foodstuffs are the main imports mentioned in the Table-1.

Table-1 Western Sahara Region

Agriculture and Livestock
Natural Resources
Hasaniya Arabic and Moroccan Arabic
Arabs, Berbers and Nomadic.
Islam (Sunni)
Cultivation of Date palms, Sheep and Camel
Dry fish, Phosphates, Potash, Iron and Tourism.
Phosphates, Iron Ore, Manganese, Lead, Zinc, Fish and Salt.
Mobile and Wireless

Source: accessed on 4th April 2010 andThe Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia,6th ed. 2007. Columbia University Press: emphasis mine

Prior to it, one must visualize and analyze the historical background of colonial and postcolonial state of Morocco including Western Sahara to understand the nature of geopolitics conflict, its consequences and its effects on contemporary Morocco.

Geopolitics Importance and Sahara
Morocco is the world’s third largest producer of phosphate rock, following the United States and China. The nation also has a significant capacity for conversion of phosphate rock into downstream chemicals. Other mineral production includes anthracite coal, antimony, barite, cobalt, copper, fluorspar, iron ore, lead, manganese, salt, silver, and zinc. ‘The mineral industry is Morocco’s largest foreign-exchange-earning sector and usually accounts for about 35% of foreign trade and about 6% of the gross domestic product. Current mining legislation in Morocco is based on Mining Code Bill No. 1-73-412 of August 13, 1973. Regulations concerning the management of petroleum and natural gas resources were revised in 1992 to provide further incentives for international companies. The gross weight of Phosphate rock in tons as per the available data of 1997 that includes Western Sahara was 23,084 thousand tons’ (Harold, 2008: emphasis mine). Interest in oil exploration contracts in areas offshore Western Sahara increased during 2008. Most of the blocks lie in the relatively unexplored Mesozoic and Tertiary Aaiun Basin. The following six offshore blocks with water depths ranging up to 3,600 m were on offer beginning in 2008: Tah (20,892 km2); Zug (20,476 km2); Jreifia (17,361 km2); Farsia (17,318 km2); Imlili (16,965 km2); and Amgala (15,417 km2). The onshore blocks on offer were Umdreiga (39,603 kkm2); Smara (29,895 km2); and Tichla (14,579 km2) (Middle East, 2008).
The economic position and lop sided development in Western Sahara, where the extraction of precious natural resources as mentioned above coincided with a state’s negligence towards regional economic decay. The resultant pan-territorial popular outrage served as potent mobilizing fuel. One can measure sub-nationalist movement on the basis of its achievement about its stated goals. To a lesser degree, changes in movement have occured several times in Western Sahara, where leaders sometimes imply that greater autonomy would be sufficient.
Since regionalism is essentially a polity based on interactions and interrelations of a complex set of regionally grouped diversities (represented by and articulated through the constituent provinces of the Morocco), a geographical approach to its study would appear a very helpful one. Since the main federal diversities are regionally organized but not on the purely sociological, economic and political in nature. A geographical approach with its emphasis on aerial integrations and regional interactions should prove a helpful tool in the study of the dynamics of regional political systems, particularly with respect to their overall origins and stability. The regionally grouped diversities on which regional systems are based will work for the sustainable development of all the provinces and avoiding lop-sided development.
Thus, reviewing the historical development of Morocco shall be twofold: first, to delineate the politico-geographical factors that were largely responsible for creating among the constituent units strong regional identities and the consequent desire for separate existence; and secondly to isolate the factors that in the end overwhelmed their feelings for separatism and persuade them to unite into a functioning regionalism.  From the two sets of factors one would proceed to infer the general relationships among Centre and Sahara region. The negotiation will help the rise of geopolitics regionalism in each case and thus arrive at certain hypotheses on the origins of regionalism in Morocco (as State-idea).

Geopolitics Regionalism and the Issue of Territorial Integrity
Historically, the European trade started in this region since the 4th century BC. During the middle ages it was occupied first by Berbers and then by the Arabic-speaking Muslim Bedouins. In the 19th century, the Spanish laid claim to the southern coastal region, called Rio de Oro, and later occupied the northern interior region, Saguia el Hamra, in 1934. Morocco got independence on 2 March 1956 with the restoration of Sultan Mohammed V and received the colonial hangover in terms of Spanish occupation over the land of Western Sahara (Sahara, 4th September 2012). This was not the first time that major colonizers in Asia and African countries withdrew from the colony but the other European powers who were managing their trade and commerce did not leave the colony despite their independence. Morocco could not complete the process of territorial integrity because of the Spanish occupation on Sahara. India is one of the examples that come under this category.

  • Goa, Diu & Daman of India was the Portuguese colony. The mass movement of Goa was supported by India and the on the order of the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the Indian army invaded Goa on December 17, 1961. Some 30,000 Indian ground troops, with the Indian air force and navy, overpowered the 3,000 member of Portuguese army. The other Portuguese colonies of Daman and Diu were also recovered. The entire military operation was conducted almost without any bloodshed. This was the territorial integrity of Goa, Diu & Daman into India.
  • Similarly, Pondicherry was the French colony even after the independence of India in 1947. The people’s agitation against French colonizer took shape of mass movement but the Government of France took seven years and Pondicherry was integrated with India in 1963. Some of the French community stayed in India after 1963 and India maintains their citizenship rights till today. Nearly 6,000 French citizens in India casted their votes on 22 April 2012 in the first round of France presidential elections in Pondicherry, which sees incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy up against Socialist candidate Francois Hollande amongst other candidates (The Hindu 23 April 2012)

It is noteworthy that today Morocco continue to complete process of its integrity like India who got independence in 1947, but achieved complete territorial integrity and unity after the recuperation of Goa, Diu & Daman from Portuguese in 1961 and Pondicherry from French colonizers in 1963.
Geopolitics regionalism and the issue of territorial integrity reminds the world that the Polisario during the Cold War had received the militarily armaments through USSR and other socialist camps (Algeria, Libya & others) of Africa. But the post 1990 hard reality is that Polisario has no weapon support from anywhere except Algeria and the common Saharawi’s are looking forward for the amicable solution on the issue of development of Western Sahara. Moroccan government raised this issue of Sahara in the UNO number of times but it became the action-reaction story of the Cold War politics. As a result, this issue is still debated at different platforms.  Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, President of India, reiterated during his opening speech on 25 July 2012 and reminded the world and I quote, “Peace is the first ingredient of prosperity. History has often been written in the red of blood; but development and progress are the luminous rewards of a peace dividend, not a war trophy. The two halves of the 20th Century tell their own story. Europe, and indeed the world, reinvented itself after the end of the Second World War and the collapse of colonization, leading to the rise of great institutions like the United Nations. – – -We are in the midst of a fourth World War; the third was the Cold War, but it was very warm in Asia, Africa and Latin America till it ended in the early 1990s. The war against terrorism is the fourth; and it is a World War because it can raise its evil head anywhere in the world. India has been on the frontlines of this war long before many other recognized its vicious depth or poisonous consequences” (The Hindu 26 July 2012). The revised constitution of 2011 is an initiative to resolve the Sahara dispute and work for territorial integrity within the framework of the new constitution. It has adopted the chapter on regionalization under Article XI. Regionalism has frequently been associated with tribalism in some of the new nations of Africa including Morocco. Article III confirms the fundamental constituents of the diversified Moroccan identity. These tribal communities, whether in India, South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia or Morocco, are reinforced by marked linguistic, culture and other traditional peculiarities (The Constitution of Morocco 30 July 2011). The characteristic feature of the Morocco constitution provides enough space for the growth of regionalism (Article XI,Regional and local democracy, and advanced regionalization).

Sahara Autonomy and Territorial Integrity
Section 34 under Article XI enshrines advanced regionalization in the constitution to redistribute the powers between constitutional institutions based on a democratic reorganization of powers between the State and the regions (The Constitution of Morocco 2011). This section explains the method of dividing powers so that the Central and Regional governments are each within a sphere, coordinated and independent. The powers are divided in such a way that the Central or Regional government becomes subordinate to each other. Section 34 limits the powers of both Central and Regional governments and guarantees the Saharan demands for constitutional autonomy.
Section 35 of Article XI confirms the basic principles underlying the Moroccan regionalization system through national, local and regional unity, balance, solidarity and democratic practices and election of regional councils by direct suffrage (The Constitution of Morocco 2011). This section recognizes both Central and Regional governments operating directly upon people. The Regional governments as well as member parliament are elected by the people through direct suffrage connecting both the governments under Morocco constitution. This was one of the major demands of the Saharawis to have a right to elect the members of their Regional Councils.
Further, Section 35 of Article XI offers the Moroccan regionalization system through principles of self-management and subsidiary to strengthen the different communities including Saharawis way of indigenous development and practices of local self-management. Article XI and XII will give leverage to the elected Regional government of Sahara to strengthen good governance through self-management and practice economic subsidiary under the rule of law (The Constitution of Morocco 2011). The Saharawis need self-management system to preserve their tribal identities and subsidization to develop their basic economic needs. The self-management system in Sahara autonomous region works for regional planning, promotion of investment, trade, industry, power generation, transportation, tourism and agriculture. The self-management system in Sahara will raise taxes, duties and regional levies and work for the exploration of natural resources and build the self-sustained Sahara region.
Section 36, of Article XI outlines the constitutional basis for a new local and regional setup in the Kingdom, conducive to substantial devolution of powers from the central authority to the regions. It justifies the decentralization of powers of the Central government to some degree vis-à-vis Regional governments (The Constitution of Morocco 2011). The illustration of this decentralization is that the Central government in some important matters (infrastructure development, house, education, health, employment and social security) will coordinate and operate through the Regional governments. The duly elected Head of government to strengthen development projects has to work in subordination with the Regional governments of the different regions including Sahara. Section 36 further highlights that the Kingdom is conducive to several forms of partnership and contractual relationships between the State and the regions, and between local governments (The Constitution of Morocco 2011). The different development implementation plans are delegated to the local governments in the form of partnership and contractual relationship. Section 36 writes about the development and devolution of central powers. The elected Regional governments have the constitutional right to operate directly upon the people living in their region and engage them in the development activities.
Section 37 of Article XI confirms the creation of a regional equalization fund and of a fund for the social overhauling of regions (The Constitution of Morocco 2011). This section illustrates the distinguishing characteristics of subordination of the Central government to the Regional governments and to build them strong in terms of social, economic and cultural aspects. The National Human Development Initiative (INDH) 2007 is designed to improve inclusiveness, accountability and transparency of the decision-making and implementation processes at the local level so as to enhance the use of social and economic infrastructure and services by the poor and other vulnerable groups.  INDH project will maintain governance mechanisms and strengthening of institutional capacity. INDH is meant to fight against poverty alleviation, development of infrastructure and socio-economic development will transfer the greater political power and resources to provincial and local governments to strengthen Regionalization of governance.
Section 38 describes the relationship between office-holding, public office and accountability that will strengthen the Section 35 that highlights Moroccan regionalization system transferring the executive power of these councils to their presidents to maintain a balance of power through check & balance (The Constitution of Morocco 2011).  It will check on the issue of corruption, malpractice of governance and accountability of the local and Regional government’s good offices. To give more people’s representation to the Regional Council, it will serve as the college for election to the House of Councilors (under Section 35). The people’s representation gets strengthened through the protection and promotion of human rights (under Section 45), enhancing gender equality (under Article VI) commonly called as Mudawwana, freedom of Press 2002, implementation of Equity and Reconciliation Commission report on the abuse of Human Rights and independence of judiciary under section 26 of the Article IX.
Article XII confirms the fundamental principles in the areas of good governance, integrity in public institutions and economic rule of law and INDH provides multi-sectoral public investments and income generating activities that target some of the 667 of Morocco’s poorest neighbourhoods and rural communities. All the regions including Sahara will be developed under the INDH project.

Geopolitics Regionalism, Self-Determination and Sahara
Basically, the right to self-determination was framed under the Article 1 and 55 at the request of Soviet Union in April 1945. All the members insisted that the purpose of self-determination should be reinforcement of peace and democracy and not the disintegration of States (UNC10, 1945: 298). Further, the Resolution 1514 (XV) of General Assembly on 14 December 1960 said that ‘All people have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development’. But the self-determination issue never operated without the support of a foreign country during the Cold War phase of 1949-1991 to weaken rival states. At the end of the 20th century, more than half of the wars were waged in order to impose separation on behalf of self-determination and that 233 ethnic groups representing about 900 million people did claim independence on the same basis. Today, once the UN permit to use self-determination on any basis (ethno-nationalism) mentioned below, we will find more than 500 new states & there is no limit thereafter. Overall, it is better to avoid taking the reference of origin of self-determination right from French Revolution and Unification of Italy and let’s analyse the varieties of self-determination of the last sixty two years such as:

  • ‘Self-Determination from Colonialism to Independence (1950-1990)
  • Self-Determination of Neo-Colonial (1950-1990)
  • Self-Determination of Ethno-nationalism (1950-1990 & Post 1990)
  • Self-Determination of Democracy (Post 1990)
  • Self-Determination of De-centralisation (Post 1990)’ (Abdelhamid  El Ouali, 2012: emphasis mine).

For this reason there is a need to look into the issue of self-determination of Western Sahara in the Post 1990 period afresh to get a clear picture. The post 1990 period came with the end of armed struggle and with the union of whole Europe. South Africa got independence and Inkatha Freedom Party came with the idea of separation of Zulu land but the idea of self-determination came with the more and maximum autonomy to the provinces including Kwa Zulu Natal. The demand of Zulu land’s self-determination was converted through mutual discussion into a united South Africa at the time of framing of the constitution. India had suffered from terrorism in various states during the Cold War period such as Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Nagaland, Sikkim and Darjeelinga part of West Bengal as most of them received the armed support either by China or Pakistan. But the Government of India explained the idea of self-determination in terms of more and maximum autonomy to the states under the purview of constitution in the areas of political, economic, social and cultural arenas. Similarly, the Québec, one of the states of Canada, came up with the demand of self-determination and was ultimately provided the maximum autonomy for the welfare of their people.
The Western Sahara conflict today needs experienced approach to deal with and I suggest the approach of Self-Determination of De-centralisation. The Saharan people will get the executive, legislative and judiciary power under the constitution of Morocco. This approach will initiate the process of territorial democracy cum autonomy in Western Sahara and the region will work from scratch to development and move towards sustainable development while sharing power with Centre and local communities. Woodrow Wilson once said and I quote, “The right to self-determination is the logical corollary to popular sovereignty; it is a synonym of the principle that government must be founded on the consent of those governed.” The popular sovereignty marks the division of power and practice the real democratic system of governance. It further strengthens the idea of economic decentralisation in which the provinces enjoy the autonomy to spend the finance for wholesome development. What is necessary for the de-centralisation principle is not merely that the Central government, like the regional governments, should operate directly upon people, but further, that each government should be limited to its own sphere and within that sphere, should be independent of the other. This approach is not appropriate unless the communities concerned have the capacity as well as the desire to form an independent Central government and to form independent regional governments. Western Sahara needs this kind of solution.
Moroccan government has taken initiative in this regard as the post 1990 Morocco has adopted right to equality (Mudawwana) to women 2004, freedom of Press 2002, implementation of Equity and Reconciliation Commission report on the abuse of Human Rights, National Human Development Initiative (INDH) 2007 to fight against poverty alleviation and counter-terrorism approach to counter radicalization policies. The successful implementation of INDH project needs to transfer of greater political power and resources to provincial and local governments to strengthen decentralisation of governance. The approach of decentralisation is already practiced in Europe, USA, Asia, South America and number of African countries. The Saharawis needs to look into Self-Determination of De-centralisation and satisfy their taste of autonomous statehood. It will help in bring to an end the bloodshed and enable to continue the leaders to work more and more for the development and people’s prosperity on the one hand and expose the rival’s plan (external forces) of new-colonialism on the other hand.

The Constitutionalization of the Advanced Regionalization:
The new Constitution provides for regionalization in the Kingdom based on real democratic reorganization of powers between the state and the Regions, in the respect of national unity and constitutional provisions. The Constitution is the basis for a new configuration of the territorial organization of the Kingdom and a division of powers between the state, Regions and local authorities. With the establishment of a fund to support inter-regional and other funds will upgrade Regions. Without reaching the dimensions of federalism, regional autonomy advocated will channel local and regional concerns within the Kingdom. All functions and powers as well as the relationship between the State and the autonomous Regions shall be governed through the adoption of an Organic Law sanctioned by Parliament with two Chambers. The implementation of this new Constitution to remain realistic and viable is guaranteed by the moderating power vested in the King, the guarantor of the perpetuation and the continuity of the State. The constitution will certainly be perfected by the daily exercise of power in order to guarantee and ensure effective promotion and consolidation of the autonomy of the Regions for the welfare of the Moroccan people and solving problems outstanding.

Geopolitics and Morocco Initiative
Since 2004, the Security Council regularly called “the parties and States of the region to continue to cooperate fully with the UN to end the current stalemate and move towards a political solution.” In response to the call of the international community, the Kingdom of Morocco has invested in a positive and constructive undertaking to submit an initiative for negotiating an autonomy statute for the Sahara region in part of the Kingdom’s sovereignty and national unity. This initiative is part of the construction of a democratic and modern society based on the rule of law, individual freedom and collective social and economic development. Thus, it carries a promise of a better future for the peoples of the region, ending the separation, exile and promoting reconciliation.
Through this initiative, the Kingdom of Morocco guarantees to all Saharawis the role that matches as per their eligibility without any discrimination or exclusion, in various bodies and institutions of the Region. In doing so, the Sahara populations administer themselves and their affairs democratically through legislative, executive and judicial bodies enjoying exclusive powers. They will also have the financial resources necessary for the development of the region in all areas and will participate actively in the economic, social and cultural life of the Kingdom. ‘The Moroccan State certainly retain its powers in the royal domains, especially those related to defense, external relations and the constitutional and religious prerogatives of His Majesty the King’ (Abdelhamid  El Ouali 2012emphasis mine). The Moroccan initiative reflects the openness of the Moroccan authorities and also intends to create the conditions for a process of dialogue and negotiation for a mutually acceptable political solution.
The statute of autonomy resulting from negotiations will be subject to consultation with affected populations through a referendum under the guarantee of the relevant provisions of the new Constitution (Abdelhamid El Ouali 2008: emphasis mine). In this context, Morocco appeals to other parties to seize this opportunity to write a new page in the history of the region and demonstrate their willingness to undertake serious and constructive negotiations on the basis of this initiative and contribute to a climate of mutual trust.
The Moroccan autonomy project draws on relevant proposals of the UN and constitutional provisions of some democratic countries. Apart from the specific powers vested in the state, it has possessed:

  • The flag, the anthem and the currency;
  • The constitutional prerogatives and religious King (Commander of the Faithful and guarantor of religious freedom and individual liberties and collective), national security, external defense and territorial integrity, external relations and the united jurisdictional.

In accordance with the principles and democratic procedures, populations of the Sahara autonomous Region will act through legislative, executive and judicial authorities within the Region and will have broad skills particularly in the economic, social, cultural and environmental areas. ‘They will have, for this purpose, financial resources, appropriate and adequate for the development of the Region. These resources come from local taxes, contributions and other territorial revenues from the exploitation of natural resources and heritage of the region as well as grants from the state to fund inter-regional solidarity’ (Guy Arnold 2009: emphasis mine). Sahara Autonomous Region, in consultation with the Government, may establish cooperative relationships with foreign Regions to develop dialogue and interregional cooperation excluding the exclusive domain of the state’s foreign policy. In addition, the skills that are not specifically assigned shall be exercised by mutual agreement and based on the principle of subsidiarity. The population of the Sahara autonomous Region shall be represented in the national parliament and other national institutions and will participate in all national elections.
To carry out the socio-economic development of the entire region and in compliance with the constitutional provisions, the Region will have the powers necessary for this purpose that include:

  • Legislative (Parliament directly elected at the Region);
  • Executive (a head of government elected by the regional parliament will form its own government and the directors to exercise the powers granted under the Statute of Autonomy). He is responsible to the Parliament of the Region;
  • Judiciary (with the creation of a local court which decides, independently, on disputes arising from the application of the standards set by the competent bodies of the Autonomous Region, without prejudice to the powers of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Council and in accordance with the  autonomous status of the region and the Constitution of the Kingdom).

The Autonomy Statute of the Region will be negotiated and will be subject to a free consultation by referendum of the people concerned. This referendum is in accordance with international law, the UN Charter and resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council, the free exercise by the people of their right to self-determination and, in the compliance with constitutional provisions (Aomar Boum, 15 Mar 2012: emphasis mine). To this end, the parties must agree to work together in good faith and in a constructive spirit of openness and fairness, knowing that the autonomy proposal presented by the Kingdom of Morocco, is a real and dynamic. It offers a historic opportunity to finally resolve this issue. Members of the international community are now more than ever convinced that the solution to the dispute over the Sahara can only be the fruit of a negotiation. The proposal presented by the Kingdom of Morocco to the United Nations is a real opportunity capable of supporting these negotiations to reach a definitive solution, sustainable and acceptable to all.

The Kingdom of Morocco has incorporated into its legal and institutional system a new Constitution as the supreme law of the fundamental and sovereign state. The new Moroccan Constitution has replaced the 1996 Constitution, which was adopted during the reign of late King Hassan II. With the text approved by referendum in June 2011 by the entire population including those living abroad, King Mohammed VI consolidated the process of modernization and development of basic institutions and the system that fits into the steady march for strengthening freedom and democratization of the governance system. The Constitution keeps certain prerogatives. The King acts as a supreme representative of the State, Chief of Defense Staff and Commander of the Faithful, separating the functions of the King as Head of State and those of Head of Government. Indeed, the future projections of the institutional modernization have at least two positive consequences:

  • The model adopted by the new Constitution will certainly be a paradigm of political-constitutional renewal in the neighborhood and in the geographical area of ​​Morocco;
  • Progress achieved with the overwhelming approval of the new Constitution by the Moroccan people is an incentive to move forward and consolidate the democratic process.

The commitment is that all reforms and corrections coming from institutional system will be in accordance with the Constitution and nothing outside it. The Moroccan text of 2011 has replaced the centralized authority by a decentralized one, with the power devolution of roles and autonomous spaces opening the Kingdom in the respect of National Unity. The establishment of a broad framework of rights and freedoms worthy of advanced democratic societies: right to life, security of people and property, prohibition of torture and all serious and systematic violations of human rights, presumption of innocence and right to a fair trial, freedom of thought, opinion and expression, freedom of assembly, peaceful demonstration, association and union membership and political. It also includes the enlargement of economic, social and environmental rights for the achievement of which public powers such as health, social protection, modern accessible and quality education, decent housing and protected environment will ensure the sustainable development.
As the State-idea in Morocco is not easy to identify, the task may be difficult. But since historical studies of the relevant periods in the history of Morocco exist, it has seemed possible to do so for the study of geopolitics regionalism. The relevant works of political scientists and students of constitutions should be made use of. It is important for the Geopolitics regionalism that all ethnic elites should be discarded and be treated alike and should be recognized under the constitution of Morocco. The government and all the traditional chiefs should initiate the process of states’ autonomy to strengthen political unity and socio-economic development. All the political rival military groups supported by regional or neighbouring countries should initiate the process of table negotiation to come forward for electoral politics on the one hand and to keep away the armed struggle on the other hand. This will be the only way to maintain geopolitics regionalism in Morocco. A “People-to-People” conferences should be organized, which will create a way to respect and recognize this UN formulation of ‘Peaceful Negotiation’ and to know the real essence of geopolitics regionalism. The central-provincial relationship to fulfil the grassroots demands should pursue a new path of development for the welfare of common people (of Sahara), this is the basic requirement of Morocco for durable peace.
Proceeding to conclude, it is noteworthy that Morocco continues to complete process of her integrity that began in 1956 like India. Today, the Kingdom of Morocco guarantees rights and political participation to all Sahrawis as per the constitution through national elections. The statute of autonomy resulting from negotiations will be subject to consultation with affected populations through a referendum under the guarantee of the relevant provisions of the new Constitution. The Moroccan Constitution of 2011 has adopted a decentralized character with the devolution of power to the regions. Constitution as any legal and constitutional, it will certainly be perfected by the daily exercise of power in order to guarantee and ensure effective promotion and consolidation of the autonomy of the Regions for the welfare of the Moroccan people and solving outstanding problems.
Overall, Article XI of the constitution supports the idea of global village and enshrines the advanced regionalization to develop all the regions of Morocco and establish peace and security. The peace and security will attract the global investors to contribute in the development of infrastructure, tele-communication, transportation, power generation, mining, housing, education, health and other projects in the undeveloped regions of Sahara. The idea of self-management (Section 35) by the Regional governments is a step to attract the global investors and sign the agreements for different development projects. This regionalization will support all the regions including Sahara. This approach will connect Sahara and other regions of Morocco with the global world and move towards international market integration. The autonomous regionalization would guarantee the best future for the Sahara, connecting it as a part of the global village and strengthening Maghreb idea of peace, unity, integration and sustainable development.


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Guy Arnold. 2009. Morocco in the 21st Century. North-South Books. UK.
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Suggested Readings
James McDougall and Judith Scheele, 2012. Saharan Frontiers. Indiana University Press. Bloomington.
Mohamed Cherkaoui, 2007. Morocco and the Sahara. The Bardwell Press. UK.
Osire Glacier, January 2012. Forgotten saints: history, power and politics in the making of modern Morocco. The Journal of North African StudiesVol. 17, No. 1: 173–179.