Chinese President Hu Jintao began an official visit to Morocco on Monday (24 April). The first visit by a top Chinese leader to Morocco this century will included talks with HM King Mohammed VI and the signing of several agreements concerning co-operation on trade, culture, medicine and health between the two governments.
HM King Mohammed VI, accompanied by HRH Prince Moulay Rachid and the President of the People's Republic of China, Hu Jintao, chaired the Royal Cabinet in Rabat which included the signing ceremony of seven bilateral cooperation agreements in the fields of tourism, health, culture, economy, public works, scientific research and trade.
A Moroccan-Chinese memorandum agreement relating to the implementation plan of organised travels for Chinese tourists to Morocco was signed by the Minister of Tourism, Handicraft and Social Economy, Adil Douiri, and the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Li Zhaoxing.
A protocol agreement related to sending a Chinese medical mission to Morocco was signed by the Minister of Health, Mohamed Sheikh Biadillah and the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The third agreement, signed by the Minister Delegate to Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Taib Fassi Fihri, and the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, deals with an application programme of the cultural agreement for the years 2006, 2007 and 2008.
The fourth agreement touches on the economic and technical cooperation between the two countries, according to which Beijing will grant Rabat 40 million yuans (1 Chinese yuan = 0.124772 US dollars).
It was signed by the Minister of Finance and Privatisation, Fathallah Oualalou, and the Chinese Minister of Trade, Bo Xilai.
The fifth agreement, signed by Oualalou and Xilai, concerns the exchange of letters on the supply of public work materials.
The sixth agreement, which bears on the scientific and technological cooperation, was signed by the Minister of National Education, Higher Education, Staff Training and Scientific Research, Habib El Malki, and the Chinese Vice-Minister of Science and Technology, Li Xueyong.
The seventh agreement concerns the purchase of phosphoric manures for the year 2007 between the Chinese Corporation SINOCHEM and the Moroccan Cherifian Office of Phosphates (OCP).
After Morocco, Hu will continue his African tour by visiting Kenya and Nigeria.
On Friday (21 April), Morocco and the UAE signed a co-operation agreement targeting the judicial and criminal fields. The agreement was signed in Rabat by Moroccan Minister of Justice Mohamed Bouzoubaa and his UAE counterpart Muhammad Nakhira Al-Dhahiri. The agreement provides for the exchange of information on judicial arrangements, legal research papers and publications and legal opinions. The agreement also encourages participation in judicial-related seminars, which will lead to the exchange of expertise between the two countries.
Morocco is among the nine developing countries that recorded a drop in infant mortality rates, according to a world report on the follow-up of the Millennium Development Goals published in Rabat Friday (21 April). According to the 2005 report of the World Health Organisation, the death toll among Moroccan children under five years old was estimated at 3.9 per cent in 2003.
Khalihenna Ould Errachid, chairman of the Moroccan Royal Advisory Council for the Sahara Issues (CORCAS), affirmed that his institution is ready to open a direct dialogue with all the associations supporting the Polisario Front for a fruitful co-operation. "The objective of this dialogue is to contribute together to the current process aiming at finding a definite and peaceful solution to the Sahara conflict," he said in a message to the concerned associations. "We at CORCAS are convinced that dialogue is the best way to resolve conflicts," he added. The message further calls on the Polisario Front to accept negotiations to put an end to the three-decade conflict as quickly as possible.
King Mohammed has condemned the bombings in the Egyptian tourist town of Dahab as "odious criminal aggressions". He sent a condolence message to President Hosni Mubarak, expressing his indignation and condemnation at these "cowardly" and "barbarous" acts, which claimed over 20 lives and injured many more. The monarch also expressed his "brotherly solidarity and compassion" with the Egyptian president and people.
Some 16 illegal immigrants were rescued in the port of Tangier on Monday as they were suffocating inside a trailer that was transporting melon to the European market.
The customs and port police discovered the illegal passengers, all Moroccans including a minor, hiding between boxes inside the Spanish-registered trailer, heading from the southern city of Agadir to the Spanish port of Algesiras.
The would-be immigrants, including the Moroccan driver of the trailer, were evacuated to Tangier hospital. They were later handed over to local police for investigations.
The would-be immigrants confessed they paid from USD150 to USD500 to a person who facilitated their access to the truck in Agadir.
Reporters without Borders (known by French acronym: RSF) strongly denounced the Spanish police "manu militari" expulsion of Maghreb Arabe Presse correspondent in Madrid, Said Ida Hassan, from a press conference on the Moroccan Sahara issue.
"We were astounded by the attitude of the Spanish police forces in this issue," RSF wrote in a press release published on Tuesday. "We do not understand why the police denied access, for a public conference, to an accredited journalist who is perfectly in order."
This April 21, Ida Hassan was denied access to a conference held in the Madrid Ateneo cultural center on the Moroccan Sahara issue.
This issue opposes Morocco to the Algerian-backed separatist Polisario, which lays claims to Morocco's southern Sahara provinces.
The Paris-based organization rejected the treatment as "unacceptable," requesting explanations from "the person in charge of the center, and from the Spanish authorities (...) about these less than democratic practices."
The NGO deplored that “the journalist, as well as about ten human rights Sahrawi militants, were denied access to the conference venue, and were pushed by the Spanish a hundred meters far from the conference.”
“Contacted many times by the Reporters, the Madrid Ateneo cultural center refused to give any commentary,” it noted.
Morocco is among the four African countries which count the biggest numbers of internet users in a continent where only 22 million people use the net.
According to Reed Kramer, one of the founders and director of AllAfrica.com “It is only South Africa, Egypt, Kenya and Morocco which have a large numbers of internet users. However Africa is witnessing the fastest increase in the numbers of users in the world".
Citing the figures of the institute of research and marketing ‘Internet World State', Kramer underlined that more than 22 million people use the net every hour in Africa, that is 2.5% of the 900 million people living in the continent. But, this number has increased by 400% since 2000.