- Western Saharans protest EU-Morocco fishing accord
LAAYOUNE, Western Sahara (AP) — Police clashed with stone-throwing demonstators in a city of Western Sahara on Tuesday during a protest against a new fishing accord that gives EU boats access to rich coastal waters.
- EU parliament approves Morocco fisheries deal
Strasbourg (France) (AFP) - European lawmakers approved on Tuesday a controversial fisheries accord with Morocco, allowing EU boats to return to the North African country's waters after being kicked out in 2011. About 120 boats, mostly Spanish, from 11 European Union member states can now fish off Morocco's 1,000-kilometre (620-mile) long coast for the next four years. Of a 30-million-euro ($41-million) annual payment, 14 million euros will go to help develop Morocco's own fishing industry. "This is an excellent deal for both sides which fulfils all the conditions requested by the European Parliament in its 2011 resolution, by ensuring both environmental sustainability and a proper return for the EU budget contribution," said Spanish MEP Carmen Fraga Estevez.
- Morocco 'kiss' teens acquitted with reprimand
A Moroccan court Friday acquitted three teenagers accused of public indecency after pictures of two of them kissing were posted on Facebook, but reprimanded the couple, their lawyer told AFP. The teens had risked possible prison sentences of five years under the kingdom's penal code, in a case that drew strong criticism from international rights groups and sparked a storm of online protest in socially conservative Morocco. "They were acquitted of the charges, notably of public indecency and publishing compromising photos, which is something positive," said Monaim Fattahi. It is unjust, because they are minors and Facebook is a private space," the lawyer added.
- Suspended sentence for Moroccan who tore down Algeria flag
Casablanca (Morocco) (AFP) - A Moroccan protester who broke into the compound of Algeria's consulate in Casablanca and tore down the country's flag during a diplomatic row was given a two-month suspended sentence Thursday. The November 1 incident came during a demonstration against comments by Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika over the disputed Western Sahara, and a video of it was widely circulated on Moroccan websites. A Casablanca court convicted the accused, named as Hamid N. and said to be a member of Morocco's "Royalist Youth", of "invading a private property" after he scaled the consulate's walls and removed the flag, an AFP journalist reported. The defendant admitted the charges, saying he had been motivated by patriotism and the desire "to defend the territorial integrity" of Morocco.
- Cameroonian falls to death in Morocco 'police raid'
A Cameroonian immigrant plunged to his death when police raided his fourth-floor apartment in Tangiers, raising tensions in the Moroccan city after a similar death in October, activists said Thursday. Backup forces entered the Cameroonian's apartment on Wednesday afternoon, in the suburb of Boukhalef, and he fell from the roof of the building shortly afterwards, rights activist Boubker El Khamlichi told AFP by phone from Tangiers. Hundreds of immigrants then marched towards the police headquarters in the northern city, carrying the victim's body, to protest "crimes" against them. The official MAP news agency said members of the security forces arriving at the scene were pelted with stones -- and two injured -- by "illegal immigrants wanting to exploit the incident, by improvising a march in the form of a funeral procession".
- Morocco lawmakers stoke cannabis debate
Moroccan lawmakers hosted an unprecedented debate on Wednesday on legalising cannabis for medical and industrial purposes in a country where tens of thousands depend on growing it for a living. There have been growing calls among politicians and civil society groups for the crop to be legalised, to boost development in the northern Rif region where it is cultivated, and MPs invited experts to parliament to discuss the possible benefits. Morocco is one of the world's top exporters of the drug, known locally as "kif," despite claims by the authorities that they have reduced the area of land where it is cultivated by 60 percent over the past decade. Ahmed Benomar, the planning director of Morocco's agency for the promotion and development of the north, called for the state to subsidise legal exploitation of the drug to benefit the small-scale farmers and stop the illegal trade.
- Chamakh goal takes Palace off bottom
London (AFP) - Crystal Palace gave themselves renewed hope of avoiding relegation from the Premier League as Tony Pulis's first home match in charge ended in a 1-0 win at home to London rivals West Ham on Tuesday.
- Morocco MPs to study benefits of looser cannabis laws
Moroccan lawmakers will examine cannabis consumption for medical and industrial purposes for the first time on Wednesday, at the request of politicians campaigning for its partial legalisation, a campaigner said. The session will look at the positive uses of cannabis cultivation "in creating an alternative economy" in Morocco, one of the world's top exporters of the drug, known locally as "kif." "We are organising a research day in parliament on Wednesday, on the use of medical kif, with Moroccan and international experts present," Mehdi Bensaid, an MP with the Party of Authenticity and Modernity (PAM), a liberal opposition party founded by a politician close to the king, told AFP. The group of PAM MPs behind the project has invited international experts and NGOs, including two Swiss specialists, to take part in the "open debate," which Bensaid called "the first step towards a draft law."
- Morocco Berbers struggle to be heard despite nod to language
Morocco's indigenous Berber people, descendants of North Africa's pre-Arab inhabitants, are struggling to make their voices heard despite their ancient Amazigh language winning official recognition in 2011 after decades of campaigning. Morocco's King Mohamed VI introduced a new constitution in response to the social unrest, which acknowledged Amazigh as an official language of the state alongside Arabic, a major achievement for a tongue that was once banned in schools. "But what has been done since then?" asks Ahmed Boukous, director of IRCAM, the Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture, which was founded in 2001 and spearheaded the campaign to have the language recognised. Morocco's coalition government, led by the Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD), "announced in its political programme that organic laws relating to Amazigh would be enacted.
- Insight: After lost decades, hopes rise for Congo dam to power Africa
By Pete Jones INGA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - Deep in the bowels of the giant Inga hydroelectric dam that straddles the mighty Congo river stands a fading map named "The motorways of electric power from Inga". From a dot in western Democratic Republic of Congo, lines extend across the African continent. They run southwards through Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, and northwards via Sudan and Libya, reaching as far as Morocco. For decades, governments dreamed of harnessing the Congo river's enormous energy at the Inga rapids with an expansion of the dam large enough to power half of Africa.
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